According to studies taken in the U.S the optimal time for early diagnosis of autistic children is 14-16 months. Early diagnosis using ADOS showed 50% accuracy in 12-14 months and 79% in 14-16 months. It has been noted that 10 percent of them had autism and another 10 percent had other diseases.
When diagnosed with autism at 16 months there can be difficulties with social development, often this is where autism can be classified as other developmental disorders. There is high accuracy in diagnosis at this age therefore 14-16 months is the best time for early diagnosis.
There are two reasons why high-accuracy autism diagnosis is possible at 14-16 months.
The first reason is that this age is when social development is rapidly progressing. It is a period when developmental abnormalities are recognizable and clearly identified because interactions using language increase. You can observe that a child’s social behavior is declining.
The second reason is that the age 14-16 months is when neurological degeneration is rapidly progressing. As mentioned, the child is born in a normal developmental state and then autism progresses and behavior regresses. Therefore, this is a good age to check any abnormal behavior as regression progresses rapidly. A study taken in the U.S. shows that it is easy to confirm regression around 6 months. The average regression period noted in autistic children in Korea’s eye contact is lost at about 12 months, and it is correct to confirm autism if stagnation and regression exist.
The three key features of the sociality evaluation of autistic children can be seen as being able to communicate using eye contact, being able to respond to distant calls, and observing people more than objects. 14-16 months is an age when you can naturally assess what eye contact was like before you practice trained eye contact, which increases accuracy when diagnosing through analysis of eye contact and call response.
Firstly, a child should be able to communicate verbally and communicate through eye contact. If the child does not have eye contact or it is weak and does requires any special effort, there may be problems. Secondly, the child needs to be able to respond to distant calls. At about six months of age, the child should have a short-range call response, and at 14 months of age, they should have a long-distance call response, which requires a response without any special inducement or effort.
The child should also observe and respond to people rather than objects in certain situations. For example, when a child plays with toys with other children, they should be seen observing the other person’s intentions and show a general interest in other people.
When social degeneration occurs, autism is clear. Most importantly, stagnation and regression are problematic if clearly observed. Autistic children are most likely to have problems with eye contact, name calling, imitation and facial expressions. As for the phenomenon of language stagnation, it can be recognized by using words like ‘mom’. The child may be slow to speak but using the term “mom” should appear around this time.
The degenerative part is largely a language regression phenomenon, in which the language used is lost, pronunciation changes and the amount of speech decreases. In addition, eye contact gradually regresses to blank looking eyes and the frequency of calls decreases, and the call response is lost. Imitation, interaction, and facial expression decrease, and the tendency to play alone gradually increases. If these exist, we can confirm that autism progresses at 14-16 months.
14-16 months is an appropriate age to diagnose autistic children early and parents should observe eye contact, call responses, observing people over objects and social regression. The most important of these four is social regression. Please go through the process of checking your child at 14-16 months.