But in Thursday’s study, UC-San Diego researchers found pediatricians were able to use a five-minute questionnaire to successfully identify potential problems in communication and language skills during a 12-month-old’s wellness checkup. Questions included whether parents could tell if their infant was happy or upset, or responsive to certain cues.
Of the nearly 10,500 infants screened, 184 scored lower than expected and were referred for further evaluation and tracked for up to three years. Ultimately, 32 of them were diagnosed with an autism-spectrum disorder, while an additional 101 were determined to have a language or developmental delay or a related condition.
Granted, this isn’t perfect – the article goes on to comment that research indicates it likely detected half the kids with an autism-spectrum disorder. But even a diagnosis of half the autism-spectrum disorder population a full two years before the current average age of diagnosis (3.1 years) is huge. I have to wonder how many more cases would be caught if parents were given a preliminary questionnaire, say at the 9-month well check, so they could be aware of signs they should be looking for.
Incidentally, the suggested pediatric appointment for the visit (the 1-year well checkup) is the same visit at which the MMR vaccine is administered – that eeeeevil vaccine that Jenny McCarthy claims infected her son with autism.