Standard Autism Screening Test Online
Astandard autism screening test is now available online for children above the age of two on the State Welfare Organization website.
The test includes a set of 10 questions to help parents determine whether their children might have symptoms consistent with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
If the answer is positive to more than three of the questions, children should be taken to one of the SWO autism centers mentioned on the website for additional diagnostic procedures.
If, however, it is not possible to identify the disorder at the centers, in that case the child must be taken to a specialist. Those who do not have access to the Internet can refer to SWO offices across the country where medical teams offer screening services.
According to Hussein Nahvinejad, rehabilitation deputy at the SWO, around 700 children have been referred to the centers since last December when the scheme was launched and 20 cases were diagnosed as having ASD, ILNA reported.
He urged families with young children to undertake the standard screening procedure so that if there is a problem it can be identified early. Symptoms may even go unrecognized in young children who have mild ASD or less debilitating handicaps.
Very early indicators that require evaluation by an expert include: no babbling or pointing by age 1; no single words by age 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2; no response to name; poor eye contact; and no smiling or social responsiveness.
Currently, around 3,000 autistic children are covered by the SWO which is expected to rise with the online screening project.
“Between 2,000 and 3,000 children with ASD might also be in special schools,” said the official.
Tried and Tested
SWO experts had been working on the screening plan since 2010 and the online questionnaire is now tried and tested, and therefore completely standardized.
The project is also expected to help define the patterns of the disorder in the country within two or three years.
“Globally, autism is more common among girls than boys, but this has not been determined yet in Iran.”
The study of ASD patterns must be conducted by academic centers but the Health Ministry and universities of medical sciences have so far lagged in this matter.
The SWO is not a research body but has taken the initiative to address the problem and “make up for academia’s non-performance” in this regard, Nahvinejad said.
Autism spectrum disorder refers to a group of complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behavior and difficulties with social communication and interaction. The symptoms are present from early childhood and affect daily functioning.
Diagnosis of ASD includes assessment of intellectual disability and language impairment.
ASD occurs in every racial and ethnic group, and acrosssocioeconomic levels. But often, it is diagnosed when it is too late for intervention, imposing a great burden on the society.
The SWO has also been working on a screening test for Alzheimer’s, a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and gets worse over time, and most often begins in people over 65 years of age.
It is being piloted in Tehran’s Ekbatan neighborhood, and once the test is standardized, it will be implemented nationwide.
February 27, 2017, Financial Tribune