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Can Grandma Help Spot Autism Earlier?

Children with autism who spend a lot of time with their grandmothers may get diagnosed with the disorder at a younger age, a small study suggests.  “This finding is incredibly important, as these individuals have the potential to lower the age of diagnosis,” senior study author Joseph Buxbaum of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York said by email.  Even though autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be identified starting when kids are around two years old, many children are not formally diagnosed until they are closer to four, the researchers note in the journal Autism. The earlier autism is caught and treated, the better, because younger kids have more adaptable brains that may respond more to therapy than older children.
In the current study, an online survey of parents of children with autism as well as some friends and family members, parents reported about 25 percent of the time that another person close to the child noticed signs of autism first. People with ASD often have problems with social, emotional and communication skills. They might repeat certain behaviors and might not want change in their daily activities. Many people with ASD also have different ways of learning, paying attention, or reacting to things. Symptoms can be less severe with early detection and treatment.
When parents said another adult close to the child first identified the possibility of autism, that person was a maternal grandmother 27 percent of the time and a teacher in 24 percent of cases.

April 6, 2017, Children's Health