Questionnaire that can tell you if your child has autism – with up to 95% accuracy’

Scientists develop simple questionnaire ‘that can diagnose autism with up to 95% accuracy’

  • New open-source questionnaire claims to screen for autism with high accuracy
  • Parents are asked to answer just 39 questions about their child’s behavior
  • Study claims test a ‘major breakthrough’ for early diagnosis of autism disorders

A simple online survey can diagnose autism with up to 95% accuracy, a study finds.

The researchers developed a 39-item questionnaire to help parents navigate a notoriously tricky diagnosis process.

It’s the latest promising development in autism screening, coming just days after authorities began the approval process for a test that can detect the disorder from a single hair.

The new Autism Symptom Dimension Questionnaire (ASDQ) – to be completed by parents or carers – asks questions about a child’s behavior and how they respond to social cues. However, parents are strongly advised to seek the advice of a doctor.

A simple online survey can diagnose autism with up to 95% accuracy, study finds (file image)

A simple online survey can diagnose autism with up to 95% accuracy, study finds (file image)

Questions include how often the child makes expected eye contact, plays with peers, seems overly sensitive to loud noises, and takes things too literally.

Parents are asked to choose from a set of five ratings that indicate how often their child engages in such behaviors.

Researchers from John Carroll University in Ohio described the survey as a “major breakthrough” in diagnosing autism.

They claimed the test was between 55 and 95 percent accurate at detecting autism, depending on the severity of the child’s symptoms, and was reliable across age, gender, race, and ethnicity.

The study involved 1,467 children aged 2 to 17, including 104 with autism. The findings were published in the journal Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology.

Along with autism screening, the test can also track and monitor autism symptoms over time.

About one in 44 children in the United States has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a number that continues to rise as the disorder is destigmatized.

Despite scientific and social advances, however, ASDs are still often not diagnosed until well into childhood.

While the average age of diagnosis in the US is four, in the UK it is even higher, at six.

Because there is no standard test for the condition, doctors must rely on the child’s developmental history and behavior.

But experts say early intervention can make a huge difference, with early detection key to ensuring children on the spectrum get the help they need.

To receive an official diagnosis, children should always see a qualified professional, but the ASDQ questionnaire represents another step towards a standardized test for autism.

ASD screenings are advised at the 18 and 24 month stages, during which the child’s language, movement and thinking abilities, as well as their behaviors and emotions, are compared to the rest of their age group .

The formal diagnosis, however, must be handled by a trained specialist such as a developmental pediatrician or child psychologist.

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What is autism?

What does it mean to be autistic?

Being autistic does not mean you have a disease or illness. This means that your brain works differently from other people.

It is something you are born with or first appear when you are very young.

If you’re autistic, you’ve been autistic all your life.

Autism is not a medical condition with treatments or a “cure”. But some people need support to help them with certain things.

People with autism can:

have difficulty communicating and interacting with others

finding things like bright lights or loud noises overwhelming, stressful, or uncomfortable

having trouble understanding how other people think or feel

being anxious or upset about unfamiliar social situations and events

take more time to understand the information

doing or thinking the same things over and over again

What causes autism?

It is not known what causes autism.

No one knows what causes autism, or if there is a cause. It can affect people from the same family. Thus, it can sometimes be transmitted to a child by its parents.

Autism is not caused by:

bad parenting

vaccines, such as the MMR vaccine

diet

an infection that you can pass on to other people

Source: ENM

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