Should children with autism be diagnosed at home?

A company is selling a test to detect early signs of autism at home.

For $200, parents receive an iPod-like device to attach to their 12 to 24-month toddler and record what they say for 12 hours. The data is then shipped back for analysis, where “acoustic algorithms . . . compare the child’s vocalizations to those of other children.” The interpretation is then mailed to parents, who presumably would discuss them with a pediatrician.

Autism can be diagnosed as early as 2 years of age, which is 3 years earlier than average. If the test is accurate, it can help start the child on a course of early treatment. But such results, without appropriate guidance and support to the parents, can lead to unnecessary anxiety.

An appropriate comparison is made with home-based genetic testing. Results of these tests can have significant, and sometimes devastating, emotional impact on patients. That’s why they should not be relied upon by itself, and really needs to be interpreted in conjunction with a medical team.

Indeed, with potential cases of autism, “not all parents are emotionally able to handle the results of diagnosis,” and, “a lot of parents really go crazy; they will get back a report about their child’s autism and go nuts.”

Use on your own with caution.

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