A University of Missouri professor says he’s excited by the findings of a University of California-Davis study that reinforces the need to detect and treat autism spectrum disorder as early as possible.
The study indicates that when infants showing signs of autism were treated between the ages of 6 and 15 months old, they experienced significantly reduced symptoms. Most were reported to have no autism spectrum disorder or developmental delays by age 3.
UC-Davis says treatment for children diagnosed with autism typically begins when they are 3 or 4.
University of Missouri Professor SungWoo Kahng says he’s cautiously optimistic about the findings, but says it drives home to parents and doctors that early detection and treatment are vital.
“It has significant implications for early intervention with kids with autism,” says Kahng. “The sooner parents and practitioners can identify these symptoms and potentially diagnose kids with autism, the sooner the kids can start receiving treatment and the better off the child will be.”
Kahng says most significant, perhaps, is that those carrying out the study were able to identify symptoms of autism in children so young.
“As a behavioral researcher, the idea of intervening at such an early age is very, very exciting,” says Kahng. “It’s something that myself or my colleagues would love to pursue.”
He could have the chance to pursue it. Kahng says more study must be undertaken of larger groups – only seven babies were involved in UC-Davis’ study.
“Until researchers are able to have larger studies that demonstrate a broader change in symptoms, we’re still a little cautious to say, ‘Yes, this is a great method of preventing these symptoms from occurring,'” says Kahng.
Read more about UC-Davis’ findings on the University’s website.