[Joshua Huffman] was part of a study at Baltimore's Kennedy Krieger Institute that revealed that half of children with autism can be diagnosed not long after the first birthday - nearly two years earlier than it has been reliably diagnosed before. Researchers, who still don't know exactly what causes autism, know this much: Early diagnosis leads to earlier intervention, which they hope can change the course of an autistic child's life, as happened with Joshua.
She is Dr. Rebecca Landa, the study's lead author and director of Kennedy Krieger's Center for Autism and Related Disorders. Landa has been conducting autism research for more than 20 years. She has been able to use her keen eye to spot the disorder earlier and earlier - this study showing the earliest yet. When Landa first started studying autism, she was working with children as old as 12. Then she realized she had to back up. "Where does it begin?" she wondered.
Dr. Catherine Lord, director of the University of Michigan Autism and Communication Disorders Center, said she wouldn't feel comfortable telling a family their child has autism at such a young age, but she would let parents know if she spotted red flags. "We don't want to be diagnosing everyone in the world with autism," she said. "But in almost all cases, the problem has been much more [that autism is] under-diagnosed."
All articles © The Baltimore Sun and may not be republished, copied or distributed without permission.
If you have questions or comments about the archives, please send us feedback