Early diagnosis of autism is vital as the earlier treatment begins the more effective it is. (See Predicting Autism in Infants at 12 Months). Now a Florida, USA, based team is proposing they can predict Auspergers and Autism as early as six months.
I picked this up from a HOI News article though the original paper was published in 2002. The paper, Reflexes Gone Astray in Autistism in Infants [PDF], was published in Early Indicators of Autistic Spectrum Disorders and Related Challenges [PDF], the 2002 issue of the Journal of Developmental and Learning Disorders . In 2004, the same team published Eshkol–Wachman movement notation in diagnosis: The early detection of Asperger’s syndrome .
The 2002 paper looks at the role primitive and postural reflexes play in early development particularly on a ‘Tilt Test’ which examines how an infant moves their head when their body is tilt by 45 degrees. The researchers acquired videos of infants who had at a later stage been diagnosed as autistic. They examined the autistic children’s movement in the video and compared it to ‘healthy’ children. This an effective way of spotting indicative behavior but the research paper doesn’t give any statistical analysis. e.g. did all autistic children behave in this way and did none of the ‘normal’ children exhibit the behavior? The paper also makes no mention of the work by Sally Goddard and Peter Blythe at the INPP. Their work has shown that primitive reflexes have a significant role in learning difficulties of all sorts including dyslexia, ADHD / ADD, dyspraxia and autism. Sally Goddard’s book Reflexes, Learning and Behaviour covers the ’tilt test’ when discussing the Labyrinthine and Oculo Headrighting reflexes.
Any research into early detection of autism and the role reflexes play in development is important. However this work is very light on detail and over simplifies the problem. The ’tilt test’ is a useful diagnostic tool but in itself is not a predictor of autism.
- Predicting Autism in Infants at 12 Months
- INPP 2001 Conference Paper
- Primary Movement
- How we learn to walk
- The Well Balanced Child