The British Autism Study of Infant Siblings (Basis) is conducting a test on 200 children that will start officially tomorrow that could help detect Autism even in infants. The test involves testing children with siblings that have Autism. The risk of Autism runs in about 1 in every 100 children, but if they have siblings with Autism, that number goes up to 10 out of 100.
They will test their brain patterns and development and then once they see what is changing, they can apply their findings to infants and be able to detect it sooner. The test is normally done around 3 years old when the symptoms start becoming prevalent. Some children even develop normally and then start taking on symptoms in the third year. Scientists believe that the changes are always there, but maybe too small to notice until age 3. Professor Tony Charman, of the Institute of Child Health, who is involved in the Basis project, said: “It may be that things were not right before, but the differences were very subtle and wouldn’t be picked up in everyday interaction with parents. We hope that studying higher risk children in the first years of life will provide answers about whether there are subtle cues that can be detected early.”
Scientists believe that it will take several years of research before they can narrow down their findings and hopefully they will be able to offset or even reverse the effects of Autism. Professor Mark Johnson, of the Birkbeck Babylab, who is leading the Basis project, said that the aim was to be able to pick up signs of incipient autism at a very early age. In the longer term, the aim is to develop possible interventions that might reduce the number of susceptible babies that go on to develop autism.” he said.