Voice analysis may help ID autism early
July 21st, 2010
10:02 AM ET

Voice analysis may help ID autism early

Analyzing a child's voice may someday be a way to screen children for autism, according to a new study.
"What the study does is apply a technology that is capable of identifying sound differences in children's speech," says Steve Warren, a behavioral psychologist at the University of Kansas and one of the study's authors.

Researchers developed a new method for using an automated voice analysis system called LENA, which appears to pick out voice patterns of children with language disorders related to autism and language delay.
Researchers gave 232 children a small device with a very tiny microphone that fit in the pocket of a child's clothing and could record everything the child said all day long. The recordings were then downloaded into a computer to be analyzed by the automated system. The children in the study were between the ages of 10 months and 4 years old. 77 of these children were known to have autism.
Researchers found the machine accurately separated the voice patterns of typically developing children from children with autism and children with a language delay. Warren is quick to point out that this study is only a proof of concept and that a lot more research needs to be done.
"We have a system that could potentially be a way to screen for autism and language delay – potentially well before diagnosis," says Warren.
He emphasizes that this new algorithm or method for voice analysis is not a screening tool for autism – yet. Warren says more studies involving children who are younger and where researchers know nothing about their development still have to be conducted.
But if this system proves to be accurate in larger studies, it may have a large impact on how children are screened for autism and language delays – even in other countries, says Warren.
He explains that generally all humans are born with the same vocal system. And this automated system doesn't test languages but voice patterns, like how a baby may utter the sound "wah."
"One could imagine using this [technique] in low-resource countries where they may not have professionals who can detect a language delay," says Dr. Geraldine Dawson, chief science officer of Autism Speaks.
The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends screening children for autism at 18 and 24 months because early detection can lead to early intervention. With intense behavioral therapy at an early age, some children with autism can show significant improvements.Researchers hope if further study of this voice analysis system validates the study's results, it could help parents and pediatricians identify children with autism even earlier.

The study was published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

soundoff (133 Responses)
  1. Ian Magnusson

    Autism Speaks? Really? You have an Autism issue and you choose to get your sole comment from Autism Speaks, an organisation that has no autistic employees, no autistic members of their board, and works only to eliminate autism. Autism Speaks is just like those Christian organisations that want to cure homosexuals.

    No. If you want an autistic point of view, find autistic people.

    July 21, 2010 at 12:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Howie

      Autism is a disorder that should be eliminated. It is not just a way to be different. It certainly should not be celebrated. I give great credit to those who have managed to live a productive life while struggling against the challenges of Autism. I draw the line at the move to 'accept' Autism as a legitimate difference like race or gender. It is a problem that should be stamped out if possible, not a diversity to be embraced.

      July 21, 2010 at 12:29 | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      How, pray tell do you propose to eliminate Autism? Euthanize the sufferers?
      As there is no cure. There is no clue as to WHAT precisely it is or what causes it, how do you propose to eliminate it?
      It's like saying that death should be eliminated. Or that pain should be eliminated.

      July 21, 2010 at 12:45 | Report abuse |
    • Carol

      You have hit upon one of my main difficulties with autism organizations. As the sister of an autistic brother and the mother of an autistic daughter I have witnessed the fact that people who carry the label of autism think differently. Parents and organizations who believed that children are "cured" by therapy and interventions are not facing the fact that their children are just wired differently and therapies, although helpful in developing new neuro-pathways, mainly serve to help kids function in a society that doesn't accommodate people outside the norm. The same could be said for blind or deaf persons as well as other disabilities. As a parent, I'm doing everything I can to help my minimally verbal daughter express herself and develop skills so she can be as independent as possible as an adult. I am also loving her and enjoying her for the gentle, sweet spirit she is.

      July 21, 2010 at 12:52 | Report abuse |
    • mljames

      @ Howie – It would be nice if we could "eliminate" it – how ever its a DISORDER – not a disease/virus. People with autism are wired differently – the best they can do is learn to live with their problem and learn to function well in society. Those caught early have a pretty good chance if they are a high functioning. I'm not saying we should celebrate it – that's like saying we should celebrate mental retardation or dislexia. But we definately should acknowlege that these people are different and may need more attention. By creating awareness we create acceptance – and that's what these people need.
      @ Ian – honestly I don't know much about Autism Speaks – All I know is from my best friend who works with Autistic children and their families each day to help them learn how to help their children. But if they are doing anything to help people realize how hard it is for people with autism & their families I don't think it can be all bad.

      July 21, 2010 at 13:03 | Report abuse |


      July 21, 2010 at 13:48 | Report abuse |
    • Karmamama


      I celebrate autism! Because it is part of who my son is.

      The world remains ignorant of just how much autistic people have contributed to humanity.

      Einstein had all the characteristics of aspergers, a form of autism.

      If we ignorantly irradicated autism, we'd stamp out a very important segment of the population.

      People don't understand autism yet, and because of it, the autistic population suffers. Not because they have autism but because of people like you!

      July 21, 2010 at 14:45 | Report abuse |
    • Talgrath

      Is it so terrible to not want children to suffer from a disorder (which may very well be curable)? My sister has Down's Syndrome and while she is a wonderful person, if I had the chance to somehow go back in time so she was born without Down's Syndrome, i would in a heartbeat. She is a wonderful person, but her genetic disease will likely kill my younger sister before she is 40. Would it be so wrong to want to prevent Down's Syndrome from occurring? Autism too (in its strongest forms) can kill people long before their time, is it so wrong to try to prevent that from happening?

      July 21, 2010 at 15:40 | Report abuse |
    • rowan

      it seems to me that once again helping a child with this disorder comes back to money. if youve money for therapy and medication you can help the child become functional,if you dont, you deal with the disorder as best you can. its sad really.another way of showing the caste system in america. i have great sympathy for anyone with a child with any disorder or birth defect. you cant judge these children. because the fact is you dont know who they are or what they are capable of.as for sunshine? 17 yrs ago i gave birth to my son.i nearly died, it took 5 units of blood to get me to the or. at that time tests for hiv were not as accurateas they are now. i was tested once a yr for 10 yrs for hiv. thankfully i did not contract it.but there are others who did. your thinking includes people like me, children born to hiv pos mothers, and people who trust their wife or husband and get infected. aids needs to be cured. not all who have it got it from sex or dirty needles. study of either of these maladies is necessary. and people like you? need therapy.

      July 22, 2010 at 09:34 | Report abuse |
    • you have to live it

      I have two sons and a nephew with Autism. The nephew is 29 and will never marry, drive a car, live on his own. My boys are higher functioning, but they have experienced a lot of pain and frustration in this world because of their disability. Most kids feel rejection in middle school, but imagine being rejected repeatedly your whole life just because you're socially awkward.

      Autism is part of my kids: part gift, part curse. While I cherish the part of Autism that makes them interesting, unique and intelligent, my heart breaks for their pain and struggle.

      There should certainly be a cure for Autism. My eldest son, if he ever marries, has said he will adopt and never pass on this disability.

      July 22, 2010 at 11:53 | Report abuse |
    • Darryl

      "If you want an autistic point of view, find autistic people."

      OK, you've found one. I have asperger's. And I want to eliminate autism.

      There is, of course, a wide variety of personalities and cognitive styles. Hoping for a world where everyone's brains are the same is silly. We're better off because some of us are predisposed to become artists or scientists or bloggers. Diversity is a good thing. And my brain's wiring brings with it some very real strengths. However, it also brings challenges. Nothing wrong with challenges, we've all got 'em. But, there comes a point where the negative impact of one's condition so far outweighs any positive or neutral elements that it's ludicrous to call it a good thing. There is a tipping point at some point along the autistic spectrum where it ceases to be a healthy expression of human diversity and instead becomes a disorder. It is autism beyond this tipping point that we should be working to eliminate. Learn whatever environmental or genetic conditions cause it, and fight against it. We'll never completely eliminate it, and those who have it should be loved and cherished, but that doesn't mean we should pretend it's a good thing.

      Not only am I an autistic man, but I also have a son with autism, on the low-functioning end of the spectrum. I love him dearly. I love who he is. But I wish he had not been afflicted with a disorder that will prevent him from ever living independently, from living safely, from experiencing so much of the world around him. Maybe one day he will learn to talk, to understand others' speech, to read, to write. We've worked extremely hard for years trying to inch our way toward those goals. I'm starting to lose hope that he'll ever get there. This is autism. This is not healthy. Whatever unique strengths he has – and he does have them – they are overshadowed by the challenges and limitations caused by his autism. This is not a good thing. My son is a good thing, but his autism is not.

      As for my own autism, there are pieces of me that are odd but acceptable, but other pieces of my autism are clearly all cost with no benefit. I'd love to not have to deal with these aspects of how my brain works. It's a little bit like high cholesterol – I wish I didn't have it. I have to admit it's a bad thing and that I have a responsibility to adjust my life to cope with it. Does it mean I hate myself or that I have no worth as a person if I choose not to celebrate my high cholesterol? Is it fascist to want to make high cholesterol less common? Neither is wanting to reduce the incidence of autism.

      And finally, the experience of aspies and low-functioning autistics is so vastly different that aspies are in no better position to speak for autistics than anyone else in the general public. Please quit glorifying disease just to boost your own self image.

      July 22, 2010 at 14:24 | Report abuse |
    • deonna frye

      As a parent of a young child with autism, i feel that autism speaks helps everyone learn about the disability and can help people who have a family member with autism. My child is not speaking and she's almost six years old. It's very difficult to communicate with her, why wouldn't I want a cure. You can't make a comparison like that???? You are comparing christians trying to cure homosexuals, to autism speaks finding a cure for autism???? That really upsets me. Life is difficult enough, I would be crazy not to want to find a cure for autism, it is a DISABILITY, and if my child can have a chance at a normal life because of a program likes Autism Speaks, then I am all for it! People need to be educated about autism, and that's what autism speaks does as well.

      July 23, 2010 at 15:31 | Report abuse |
  2. Dan in Seattle

    When are researchers going to start working on autism PREVENTION ???!!! As the parent of a 7 yr old autistic boy, I'm grateful for the many treatment options available today ... both behavioral and biomedical. My boy is pratically recovered. However ... these treatments are all EXPENSIVE and we are bankrupt as a family. Most families cannot afford these treatment options. Early detection doesn't mean anything if you cannot afford the $40,000/year (or more) potential cost of treating autism.

    Autism is a pediatric epidemic and could be prevented if research were focused in the right direction. My wife and I took steps to prevent a possible second case of autism prior to getting pregnant and all thru pregnancy at the cost of just a few hundred dollars. It involved some genetic testing and specific nutritional supplementation based on the results. Compared to the $150,000 we have already spent on treating autism, the cost of prevention was nothing.

    At this stage in the epidemic, the entire medical community including pediatricians and OBGYN's should be embracing and demanding action toward autism prevention.

    July 21, 2010 at 12:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Val

      To: Dan in Seattle,

      Can you please elaborate on what genetic tests you did, and what nutritional supplements used to prevent autism? I was not aware there is a genetic test for autism. Nor was I aware that there are known (even anecdotally known) supplements that can help prevent it (other than folic acid for neural tube development). I'm sure other women would be interested in reading about possible preventive measures as well. Thanks.

      July 21, 2010 at 12:25 | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Nice snake oil sales job.
      Sorry, but that's what you are doing.
      Since the cause is unknown (save for you), there is no treatment or preventative.
      Save in your case, via anecdotal evidence that is even shadier than Roswell crash evidence.
      Show us double blind studies done by REAL medical professionals with full peer review, not your magic vitamin story.

      July 21, 2010 at 12:47 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      The key to prevention is understanding. Since thus far we don't understand the risk factors and contributing components to autism any investigation into its prevention is just stabbing in the dark.

      July 21, 2010 at 12:57 | Report abuse |
    • John King

      Hogwash. There is no genetic test for autism. Autistic people may (or may not) have some extra genetic material or markers, but so do some people without autism. These markers are no guarantee of autism.

      July 21, 2010 at 14:09 | Report abuse |
    • laurien

      While scientists working with the epigenome identified an "autistic" gene (one of what will probably be many) there is NO TEST for autism, and there have been NO STUDIES with any viable conclusions that autism is caused by something the mother ate or experienced during pregnancy. None. I don't even know why you would say something like this, unless you were taken by a con man yourself.

      July 21, 2010 at 14:27 | Report abuse |
    • Karmamama

      I want to know what people really mean by "recovered".

      Dan, do you mean to say that your child no longer has autism?

      Or, that he has learned not to display signs of autism?

      How severely was he impacted? Maybe the treatments helped with comorbid conditions that he had?

      I worry that "recovered" kids learn that they are not acceptable, and spend their lives repressing who they really are.

      I'm not trying to antagonize you, btw, I just really want to know. The recovery movement puts a lot of pressure on parents, and I'm trying to understand it.

      July 21, 2010 at 14:52 | Report abuse |
    • Mr

      I have to agree with the others Dan, that's a big assumption that your "prevention efforts" are the reason you don't have a second child with autism. Yes, there are ways to manage and reduce some of their problems, such as speech therapy, dyspraxia (Doors Therapy), but "recovered"??

      July 21, 2010 at 15:13 | Report abuse |
    • Dan in Seattle

      First of all ... let me say that I never meant to suggest that there is a "genetic test for autism." I agree that there is no "genetic test for autism." This is a complicated topic and frankly very difficult to discuss on line. But please be kind. All I've tried to do for the last 6 years is help my kids. There is no way to explain all details and history in a news article comment. But I'll try to answer some of the other comments.

      It's true that the key to prevention is understanding. Unfortunatley, the greater medicical community (in my opinion) isn't giving us anything to understand. Many parents like myself just get to watch our kids fade away into never-never land and never know why.

      Because the medical community had no information for me, I took my best guess at the cause of autism and came up with environmental toxicity. I didn't want another autistic child if I could help it. The genetic test my wife and I did looked at our ability to detoxify. Hogwash or not ... the test said we were both very weak in four or five of the same areas. This was almost four years ago so I don't remember all of the recommended supplements. There were 5 or 6. Two of them were fish oil and the broken down form of folic acid called 5-MTHR. We did these tests and nutritional supplements under the supervision of an MD. Did it prevent autism in my second child? I don't know ... but I would like to know and I wish the NIH and CDC would study it. There may not have been double blind placebo controled studies behind all of it. But there was certainly some science behind it. If my 2nd had developed autism and I hadn't tried to prevent it ... I would have deeply regreted it.

      As for recovery ... my 7 yr old who was severe at 18 months is now functioning at age level ... about to enter 2nd grade. He plays soccer and basketball. He just started piano lessons. Do kids still notice a difference? Absolutely they do. They probably will for his entire life. I call it about 90% recovered. What I mean is that he has "recovered" most of his function. This should not put any pressure on parents. We all do what we can for our kids. Many of our efforts have paid off but I also acknowledge that we've had a lot of luck as well.

      I will still stick to my original assertion that autism could be preventable if research started going in the right direction.

      July 21, 2010 at 20:43 | Report abuse |
    • Anna

      How was your son recuperated? You mention that his autism has been cured? I have a 9 year old with autism – he is high functioning but still very tough. He progresses but I don't see him getting cured?

      July 22, 2010 at 11:23 | Report abuse |
  3. Ken

    Not sure how this really helps. There's no cure for autism, and the parents are going to either end up with a kid who's dependent for life or has a very rough life. If parents are grasping it straws like gluten free diets, it means the situation is pretty much hopeless until they can find a cause and a cure.

    July 21, 2010 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Howie

      There are many treatments, and many have claimed to be cured. Not sure where you are coming from.

      July 21, 2010 at 12:32 | Report abuse |
    • Wzrd1

      Ken, not entirely correct. The CORRECT term now is autism spectrum disorder. That is due to the wide spectrum of the symptoms of the malady. It can range from complete dysfunction, hence full dependence to mild symptoms, where there are fully functional people, to include some doctors and loads of computer programmers (a standing joke in the industry is that we have Asperger's to thank for our best software). Not an insulting joke, just an ironic twist to a predilection towards skills that adapt easily to software engineering.

      July 21, 2010 at 12:50 | Report abuse |
    • Ian

      There is no cure for Autism. Yes, children have learned to "pull out" of some of the affects of autism, but even then they are not cured. I have a son with Autism, and he has come MILES with therapy, ADD Medicine, and other straws we have grasped for. In many cases, many people would not even noticed he was any different that other children. Of course, that is before you start to really interact with him and notice he can't answer questions like "Why". Those who claim their children are "cured" of Autism of in as much denial as those parents who refuse to accept the diagnosis in the first place.

      July 21, 2010 at 15:59 | Report abuse |
  4. Jennifer

    Autism is the new designer disease. It's what all the in parents want their children to have.

    Just like ADD was, before ADD became so very five minutes ago. Most of the children diagnosed with autism today do not, in fact have autism.

    This is not to denigrate those who truly do have autism. It is a very real condition. However, diagnosing every child with behavioral problems with autism does NOTHING for those who truly suffer from this, except draw attention away from their problems.

    July 21, 2010 at 12:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wow

      Parents WANT their children to have autism? Are you serious? Why I agree with what you are saying here overall, I think your first statement is completely off. No parent wants their child to have autism. My son was diagnosed as having a language disorder by a speech pathologist and then diagnosed as having autism by a developmental pediatrician. I definitely believ he has the speech disorder, but I am hesitant to fully believe the autism diagnosis because I believe so much of the autistic behaviors are related to the speech problem.
      So you can see I do agree that autism may be the easy diagnosis to jump to. BUT even if that is the case we are still following through on therapies for autism because we are just not sure but it's better to get the help than to ignore it. I've seen some parents just shrug their shoulders at the suggestion and not look into it further – even if their child is slightly autistic getting help now may make life easier in the future.
      I think it is the doctors who are going directly to autism – not the parents. I do not want to label my child as autistic until I am sure, but I am not going to ignore that a doctor has diagnosed it. But to say the parents WANT this diagnosis is beyond ridiculous. I would love it if my child didn't already have to struggle. If all the developmental milestones are easily met by your child – thank God and leave other people alone.

      July 21, 2010 at 12:34 | Report abuse |
    • Angie

      "Autism is the new designer disease. It's what all the in parents want their children to have."

      Are you kidding me?! Autism is one of the many fears parents have.

      July 21, 2010 at 12:35 | Report abuse |
    • shannon

      no parent wants their child diagnosed with autism. However, it has become a catch-all for lots of developmental issues. lacking a clear definition or positive test makes the diagnosis quite subjective. My son is a quirky kid with a language delay. in order to qualify for services, he was labeled autistic. so be it. in a couple years, he will be indistinguishable from the other kids in his class.

      July 21, 2010 at 12:37 | Report abuse |
    • Just so you know...

      You're an idiot.

      July 21, 2010 at 12:49 | Report abuse |
    • ChuckyP

      I didn't choose to be an "In Parent", didn't want to be an "In Parent". If anyone wants there child to have autism they are extremely ignorant, stupid, need to have a vasectomy or fallopian tubes tied and not be allowed to reproduce. You can't just throw away a child like a new electronic gadget just because it's the "In Thing".

      July 21, 2010 at 12:57 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      Please read "We've Got Issues" by Judith Warner. She set out to write a book about parents "wanting" their kids to have (specifically) ADD/ADHD. She couldn't find any and ended up writing a book about the serious issues these kids have and the difficulty in finding help for them.

      Furthermore, if autism-spectrum disorders (ASD) are results of behavioral problems, why would parents know something is "wrong" with months-old babies later diagnosed with an ASD? Differences in eye-tracking patterns and head growth rates between "normal" babies and ones later-diagnosed with an ASD have been documented in large-scale studies.

      July 21, 2010 at 13:07 | Report abuse |
    • Emily

      THE DESIGNER DISEASE?! You pompous bitch! Come walk five miles in my family's shoes. Oh my God, if you were in front of me, I'd slap you myself.

      July 21, 2010 at 13:26 | Report abuse |
    • Meredith

      I 'get' what you're saying Jen.

      I agree with you. It makes some people feel 'special' to tell others that their children have the 'soup du'jour' (sp?).

      My nephew is PROFOUNDLY autistic. He doesn't speak, he plays with his feces, etc. He is 16 years old. Not even the Carmen Pingree school in SLC could 'help' him.

      At any rate ... parents love to talk with my sister about how thier children are autistic, so they 'know what's she's going through'. Yeah right.

      Anyway, you speak the truth.

      Meredith in Utah

      July 21, 2010 at 13:53 | Report abuse |

      a uneducated idiot speaking on a topic you don't know beans about. Just because we're afforded freedom of speech, you are one person that needs not exercise it!

      July 21, 2010 at 15:02 | Report abuse |
    • DaveSEMassachusetts


      I would love to transfer my son's autism to you or anyone else who would spew such nonsense. My daughter is a normal kid who's much above average in school, friendly, and a great athlete. Do you think I would have my daughter turn into my son whose speech is mostly parroting, who tortures my sweet cat, who would rather spin the clothes washer than have a conversation, and feels no remorse for anything? Getting my son to where he can be independent will bankrupt me. Designer disease, indeed. You should spend some time with a family with an autistic member before you issue that claptrap.

      July 21, 2010 at 15:44 | Report abuse |
    • no one

      Jennfer you are a MORON. I am pregnant with my second child and I can tell you that my BIGGEST fear is autism. I would not wish it on ANYONE. NO ONE "WANTS" THEIR KIDS TO HAVE AUTISM.

      July 21, 2010 at 16:24 | Report abuse |
    • annec1

      Jennifer, what's YOUR excuse for the crap coming out of YOUR mouth? Are you developmentally challenged?

      July 21, 2010 at 16:52 | Report abuse |
    • maestro dougherty

      autism is a "designer" problem among pediatricians- there is rampant false diagnosing of autism happening and that is unfortunate because it makes it much harder to do good research on autism and what helps people who have it. if a kid doesn't talk on time now, your average pediatrician will immediately believe the kid is autistic. i know from experience.

      July 22, 2010 at 00:00 | Report abuse |
    • Phirante

      Jennifer, I assume that you have never met any parents of any autistic children. If you had, you would have felt their pain and would not have posted such an ignorant comment.

      July 22, 2010 at 00:19 | Report abuse |
    • JH

      No parent in their right and sane mind wants their child to have any kind of illness or disorder. Saying that Autism is what parents want their children to have is misinformed, at the least, and hateful, at the most. Some parents do grasp at straws when their child isn't developing typically. It's not because they want their child to have a "popular" disorder. It's because they are desperate and searching for answers. Can you cite some studies that show Autism is overdiagnosed? Autism isn't a "behavior problem." An example of a behavior problem would be the actions of someone who spews misinformation and ignorance regarding a possible early intervention tool.

      July 22, 2010 at 03:13 | Report abuse |
    • SAB324

      You are disgusting. I hate leaving comments on here but you are pathetic. Obviously you have never been affected by Autism nor do you have any understanding of what it actually is. I will never ever wish Autism upon anyone. You are a pig and a selfish ignorant human being. I cannot believe how much you infuriated me over your stupid ignorant trashy comment.

      July 22, 2010 at 13:32 | Report abuse |
    • Ginger

      I work in the field, and sometimes see misdiagnosis of autism and related disorders. I have seen parents who are sure that their child should have an ASD diagnosis, when their child is really not on the spectrum. They sometimes get angry when they get a diagnosis like Oppositional Defiant Disorder, because they really believe that we are missing the signs of autism. Jennifer is correct that autism is very current and in the news, so parents get bits and pieces of information about it. They confuse signs and symptoms of other things (ADHD, mood disorders, expression of a severe lack of care/stimulation, even negligent parenting) with autism. Diagnosis can mean disability checks, support services in the home and in school, and something to blame for the chaos that a family is dealing with as a result of the child's behaviors. In cases of a legitimate ASD diagnosis, parents are often relieved to know that there is a name for what they are experiencing and a game plan for dealing with it.

      July 26, 2010 at 18:58 | Report abuse |
    • Cullie Jones

      I understand what you mean although it probably could have been stated better. I have a child with autism. She is moderately disabled. I have battled the school system to keep my child included in a general education classroom rather than in a special needs classroom that does not teach age appropriate curriculum (and instead gives older children "baby toys"). Many schools perform unspeakable acts against these children, including use of mechanical restraints, verbal abuse and locking them into seclusion rooms. I am appalled at how many parents have told me that they want an autism label for their child so that they could receive services (speech, OT and PT) that they otherwise would not be qualified for. I personally can't imagine wanting your child to have a label that they don't need. I personally prefer to spend my energies toward helping my child to be as independent and self-sufficient as possible.

      July 28, 2010 at 13:11 | Report abuse |
  5. Allen

    Wonderful!!! But there's one small problemn; 3/4 of the individuals with autism ARE NON-VERBAL, you idiot!

    July 21, 2010 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Howie

      Most were verbal at the 18 to 24 month stage and became non-verbal when the disorder manifested itself. Do the research before calling names.

      July 21, 2010 at 12:31 | Report abuse |
    • Darren

      @Allen... you said it perfectly.... as a proud parent of my autistic son Caleb, who, at the age of almost 7 now, is non verbal up to this point..... so, what does a "study" such as this really prove, other than it is a waste of time...... morons.......

      July 21, 2010 at 12:36 | Report abuse |
    • Darren

      @ howie.... *most* were not really verbal...... making some sounds, but not forming words does not mean they are verbal.... it seems there is an "autistic" label being put on almost anything behaviorally pertaining to kids now.....

      July 21, 2010 at 12:39 | Report abuse |
    • shannon

      Non-verbal does not mean mute.

      July 21, 2010 at 12:39 | Report abuse |
    • Darren

      Shannon, my son is not mute, either, but it would not take analyzing his voice (what there was of it, even @ 18-24mo) to determine he is not mainstream...... this "voice analysis" is a waste of time and resources.... the focus should be more on genetics, environment and the food we eat, rather than this nonsense....

      July 21, 2010 at 12:46 | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      Hi Allen,
      I am a mother of a 10yr old boy who is on the autism spectrum. He is very verbal,,,do you have an autistic child? Please refrain from using such harsh words as "idiot". I have heard people refer to my son in such terms and it is heart-breaking. No one is an idiot or a moron, some people may not have all the knowledge or experience in dealing with autism. Autism has so many levels. Please keep an open mind and heart when discussing such sensitive issues. You never know who you may be hurting with words. Take care and have a good day

      July 21, 2010 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
    • AB

      Very Good Point!

      July 21, 2010 at 12:57 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      The article specifically states that the "voice analysis" doesn't rely on meaningful communication, but analyses tone and patterns. That's why they say it's applicable world-wide, since before learning language babies engage in predictable, universal vocalizations. Measuring the pitch, intonation, frequency, or even lack of expected pre-speech noises is the aim of this research.

      The hope is that early on differences in development can be found which correlate with increased risk for speech disorders or autism so that children can be targeted even before diagnosis for further diagnostic testing and early intervention which could determine their clinical outcome. Because babies develop early vocalizations (babbling, etc) in a very systematic way regardless of race, culture or the language spoken around them this could be a very powerful tool for identifying children who aren't developing at the same rate or in the same way as their peers.

      July 21, 2010 at 13:07 | Report abuse |
    • laurien

      That is absolutely not true.

      July 21, 2010 at 14:30 | Report abuse |
    • Cheryl2

      As a speech pathologist I can tell you they are not talking about actual words coming out of the child's mouth but the sounds they are making. Even nonverbal children formulate sounds.

      July 21, 2010 at 16:12 | Report abuse |
  6. daphne

    I believe it helps because children are often misdiagnosed and sometimes people are quick to jump and say your child is autistic when they aren't.
    My daughter had a mild speech delay, a result of second language acquisition, and her preschool told us she was autistic. All because her speech was a few months behind her classmates.
    I spent $3,000 a month on speech therapy for over a year and another $8,000 on developmental pediatricians reports only to have confirmed what I thought. She wasn't autistic. She had only heard Mandarin the first year of her life and was getting adjusted to english. At five she talks non stop with the verbal skills of an 8 year old. It's exhausting.

    Autism is so complicated and such a mystery. I think any piece of the puzzle- anything that is a step towards more understanding is a good thing.

    July 21, 2010 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • leikela

      You have made a very valid point. Autism can be mistaken for other issues. Jumping on the autism bandwagon hurts not only those who don't have it, but those who do have it. More accuracy is needed.

      July 21, 2010 at 18:08 | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      unless there was a social delay along with the communication and some sensory issues there really was no reason for that even to have been brought up

      July 22, 2010 at 10:08 | Report abuse |
  7. Squeezebox

    To Ian Magnusson: you just don't get it. Autistic and Asperger's people think differntly from the herd. The herd doesn't like it. They punish those who are different. The herd discriminates. The Autistic have been said to be demonically posessed. The Autistic have been burned and drowned as witches. What we need to do is make Autistic people like the rest of the herd so they will be accepted by the herd.

    July 21, 2010 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      So, what you're saying is that they need to be lobotomized so you can accept them at your level, Squeezbox?

      July 21, 2010 at 12:51 | Report abuse |
  8. cat

    there are different level of autism, some are verbal some are not, I assume the study is focusing on the verbal ones, which are the levels that benefit more from early detection.... just a note 🙂

    July 21, 2010 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      Glad to see someone finally gets the point of the study! Earlier detection of a possible problem means earlier examination and, if warranted, earlier diagnosis and treatment

      July 21, 2010 at 13:01 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Read the article – they don't mean "verbal" as in talking. They mean it as in the babbling and pre-speech that children go through as they begin to develop language. At that early age there is currently no easily-distinguishable difference between kids who will develop autism and others who develop normally. They are analyzing differences in these noises which might indicate differences in development to help target at-risk children before the recognizable symptoms are there.

      July 21, 2010 at 13:13 | Report abuse |
  9. Apraxia Mom

    What a stupid study! A machine can help identify speech disorders and autism, goodbye human interaction. How can a machine say you might have autism based on your speech sounds. Autism is not just speech, if it was, then a lot of kids would be autistic, including mine, who isn't. My child has childhood apraxia of speech, a very specific speech disorder. But then again, there are people who say their child is autistic to get insurance to pay for services. Speech therapy is not covered by insurance, but autism is. I have read people actually say I am trying to get my child diagnosed as pdd (pervasive develpment disorder), so I can get his speech covered. And we wonder why the autism numbers keep going higher and higher. That ties up services and makes costs go up for the children who really are autistic and need help. People need to stop abusing the system.

    July 21, 2010 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      OK, so if it's stupid to use a machine to monitor each child, that means it must be better to tie up professionals 24×7 to monitor every sound and action of the child under observation. Makes sense, there are so many doctors who have no patients to see, we can easily use those excess of medical professionals to monitor thousands of children!
      What the device does is provide data for a medical professional to evaluate and target more intensive testing for those who need it. Since we DO NOT have that many medical professionals to spare, it makes sense.
      Or should we get rid of senseless technologies, like x-ray, MRI, Cat scan, ECG and PET scan? After all, a HUMAN could just cut people open and SEE what is wrong without eliminating human interactions!
      No need to cut back on your human interaction, we'll do open heart surgery to see if you had a heart attack. We'll flay open your leg to see if it's broken!
      Better yet, THINK before you gripe.

      July 21, 2010 at 12:59 | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      The rise in rates of autism correspond with the development of diagnostic criteria. Historically a child with autism would have been written off as "mentally retarded."

      What you see as a broadening of the definition of autism is, from another perspective, just a fragmentation of the catch-all of retardation as we come to understand the various environmental and biological contributors to various diseases which all culminate in poor performance on standard measures of intelligence. Even 50 years ago most doctors wouldn't have distinguished between the symptoms resulting from an early traumatic head injury, brain damage from perinatal hypoxia, or autism, but lumped them all together based on a common outcome.

      July 21, 2010 at 13:20 | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      Right, only autistic children need help, not children with other speech problems... My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS and we have always used the term autistic because he does fit the criteria. He doesn't have hand flapping, but when he gets excited he will hit himself or something else. Basically it is a sensory issue. Sometimes he cannot understand what I am saying even though he can hear me because there are too many other things going on around him and he cannot concentrate. I only found this out when a doctor was diagnosing him for disability through the SSA (Not only did he not qualify under their guidelines, but even if he had I made too much money). His senses are more heightened than yours or mine. He had a speech therapist from the age of 2-3 and really it did him no good. Any progress made would be forgotten by the end of the day. He is very high functioning, so I am lucky that rewards work with him to curb his behavior in public school. But if it didn't, you could bet that he should qualify for any services that any autistic child would. Insurance or not. All of his 'treatments' have been free through the school system. He even went to a special preschool from the age of 3 until kindergarten for free to prepare him to be in a regular classroom, and today he is without a para in a regular classroom, though he still needs some help. It will be a great day when every school system has the resources to give these children the right help for free from a very young age, that definitely made a difference in our case. I used to think he would never talk and he talks just like any other 8 year old now.

      July 21, 2010 at 14:13 | Report abuse |
    • Cheryl2

      You are misunderstanding what they are measuring. There are many factors in measuring voice or "verbalizations", volume, frequency, duration, nasality and others. The recordings measure the vocalizations and they look for differences in patterns to see if there are differences. An autistic vocalization may show less variation in pitch over different utterances, or some other measurement. This would never be an actual diagnosis of autism from this, but could show autistic tendencies. You sound very bitter about the lack of help for your child's speech, I am very sorry for that (lack of services). The public schools have speech pathologists and are required to provide services for children that qualify who are 3 or over. If you live near a university see if they have a communication disorders program, they provide therapy for minimal fees to provide practice and experience for the students. Good luck, apraxia can be tough.

      July 21, 2010 at 16:36 | Report abuse |
  10. Kim

    No parent would ever want their child to have Autism. As the mom of an 8 year old girl with Autism who did not talk until she was 4. There is no known cure for Autism. Yes it is used a lot because several other disorders fall under the umbrella of Autism. Examples are PDD-NOS, Aspergers and Hellers Syndrome. Don't speak if you have not lived it. The therapies are expensive and insurance does not cover them.

    July 21, 2010 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. ChuckyP

    My child has been diagnosed with and ASD (PDDNOS to be specific). Whether he really is or isn't, is irrelevant, there are communication delays along with other developmental delays which being a parent I need to act on, look for and get as much help needed to ensure that my child can live a long and prosperous life on his own.

    July 21, 2010 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. SR

    Early diagnoses is great, however having qualified therapists who know what they are doing is far better. Autism is becoming such a money making racket. My son was diagnosed at 2.5 yrs. However we wasted first two years with therapists who were nothing more than over paid babysitters.

    July 21, 2010 at 13:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Matthew


    I do not see how your comment helps. As a parent with two children with Autism, I also grasped for any understanding. It is a genetic component that causes it. It is not vaccines, or diet, or any other goofy cause. We met with a major pediatric geneticist and was able to tell us more than any family doctor, psychologist, or neurologist. However, because of my children, I do not see how a parent could ever "want" their child to have a disease. I get so upset when I see parents telling their two year old to "shut up" when my couldn't talk at the age.

    Yes, when a disease gets more coverage, it is diagnosed more. I would not venture to say it is designer. That is just insensitive.

    July 21, 2010 at 13:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Matthew

    My oldest was selected to be a part of this study. We were sent a pair of overalls that had a pocket in the front where a small recording device would fit into it. He was not "talking" but making plenty of sounds. The problem was that he wouldn't wear the overalls and kept taking them off and throwing a "fit". It is interesting to see this study come out though.

    July 21, 2010 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Geoz

    I think this is the final blow in the anti-vaccine crowd argument.

    Parents think they have a perfectly neuro-typical child until the MMR at 18 months, but this clearly will establish this as a falsehood – unless there is a seperate disorder caused by vaccines, that looks like autism.

    July 21, 2010 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply


    July 21, 2010 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Maureen Liu

    As a mother of a 13 year old son on the spectrum he was at the beginning of the "epidemic." Our insurance would do nothing for him even though he had no speech by 2 1/2 years old! Finally we got help through the regional center here in California which is a progressive state for services. I got on many blogs in the early days from parents all over the world whose children were not getting any help. The truth is time is critical when dealing with autism. These kids need a lot of help to even learn to talk. The reason these kids in the past were considered retarded is because they got no help when they were younger. It is not a "designer" disorder I will never really recover from being told my beautiful boy was autistic– worst day of my life!! That being said he is verbal now with an IQ of 110 on the WISC-IV IQ test which is very extensive. He is bright and verbal but will never be "normal" and that's okay he is who he is. My fear is during this economic downturn people will start to question services for these children–early intervention saved my son's life he might of been retarded without services think before you condemn programs and services.

    Thank you for reading,

    July 21, 2010 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Tired

    This is just retardation in its many varying forms. Autism is a new diagnosis of the same problems. Old women having babies could certainly be a factor, as well as chemical exposures throughout our lifetimes and during pregnancies.
    No one wants to admit their child is retarded, but they are eager to admit to Autism because it removes much of the stigma. If you don't like the word retarded, then just replace it with "Autistic" if it makes you feel better.

    July 21, 2010 at 14:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • laurien

      Tired: Hi. It's 2011. Welcome. Looks like you've got some catching up to do.

      July 21, 2010 at 14:31 | Report abuse |
    • hmmm

      Obviously you don't know much about Autism (or retardation as you say). Many people on the austism spectrum are very intelligence, probably more so then you. Read up on the subject or spend some time with someone on the spectrum before you judge.

      July 21, 2010 at 14:35 | Report abuse |
    • Karmamama

      Einstein had autism.

      Autism does not = retardation, you ignoramus. Get educated!

      No disrespect meant to the mentally retarded, I'm just pointing out that they are different conditions.

      July 21, 2010 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      He is obviously just trying to get a reaction...

      July 21, 2010 at 14:42 | Report abuse |
    • KDW

      Tired does have a point, though he phrased it badly and may be just trolling. There have been studies that have looked at adults in group homes that were diagnosed as only being mentally retarded. The researchers then looked to see if any met criteria for autism. Many of them did. Children are also being dual diagnosed with autism and other disorders, such as Down's Syndrome. In the past they would more than likely have just been diagnosed as having severe Down's. Things like this are impacting the higher rates of autism. Yes not everyone with autism is mentally retarded. Many are of normal to above normal intelligence. Just as researchers know that people with Down"s can have normal to near normal intelligence.

      July 21, 2010 at 16:59 | Report abuse |
    • Tired

      Actually, it is 2010. My point is the labels and how they are used. Why is it okay to be Autistic, and not okay to be mentally retarded? Whose definitions and whose labels are these? Have you noticed that white people have kids with autism, and all the rest get the MR label? Why can't people accept that we are all different, and some need more help than others? This controversy is really about educated white snobs who don't think that the afflictions of life apply to them.

      July 22, 2010 at 00:10 | Report abuse |
    • you have to live it

      So ignorant.

      Many autistic people are off-the-charts brilliant. Many have uncanny abilities. One of my sons is musically and mathematically gifted, but suffers from severe social impairment.

      I'm loathe to use the phrase idiot-savant (because of the term idiot), but many people once written off as idiots actually possessed savant abilities (Rain Man).

      July 22, 2010 at 12:01 | Report abuse |
  19. Maureen Liu

    Tired did you even read my post??? Let me put it to you in plain English–many autistic children would have been labeled autistic in the past who could have benefitted from early intervention and not been retarded. Your statement is an uneducated one the kind of stuff people say to each other at a BBQ not knowing what they are talking about. You're not an expert on autism so don't you think you should study a bit before you spout off?? My son is autistic and has an above-average IQ he is fully-included in all classes and is taking Geometry in 8th grade because he has already passed algebra. Does that sound retarded to you? Maybe it makes you feel better about yourself to call people "retarded" hum just a thought.

    July 21, 2010 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. SEAN

    For those of you with children on the spectrum, your voices and opinions are the only ones that matter in all of this. For those of you who "know" someone or "act" as if you know something about raising an autistic child, or better yet know what's best for something you will never have to deal with; please keep your uneducated, unrealistic and rather annoying "thoughts/comments" to yourself.

    For you Jennifer, I think you were trying to make somewhat of a comparitive comment "designer disease" when all you ended up doing was sounding like a total moron! A) Autism is not a disease & 2) You should stick to the designer things you know about (ie Chic jeans, Rebok pump shoes and Aqua Net hair spray).

    July 21, 2010 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. amy p

    Autistic childre are not retarded and should not regarded as such. They are very intelligent. I have two nephews from different families that have been diagnosed with the disorder. JT spoke until he was two and a half. I have videos of his first years socializing, speaking, and playing hand games. My other nephew does not speak, nevertheless he can read. We know this because he spells o the computer. Early detection and early detection may have slowed the progression.

    July 21, 2010 at 14:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. WausauFamily

    This is excellent news and more needs to be done in early detection in order to best treat these children.

    July 21, 2010 at 15:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Z's Mom

    Autism is not "new"! It has become more prevalent in the news and I believe it has become an easy catch-all diagnosis for professionals to utilize. Children who are "cured' of their autism, in my opinion, were originally misdiagnosed. How can autistic children be tested for MR? The tests are geared for those who brains work in a typical fashion. (I refuse to use the term normal – there is no such thing.) So what if his world is in black and white. He may not be able to think in abstract terms but he methodically figured out how to wipe out a CPU at 20 months of age. I am proud of every milestone he reaches and I take no goal for granted. I took great delight the first time he sassed me!! He was five years old before he talked. Most likely he will become my retirement buddy and I find no distress in that fact. Is it easy to raise a child with autism? Heck NO!! Volumes can be written about raising a special child – the good, the bad, and the funny. My son is who he is and I accept and love him will all my heart.

    July 21, 2010 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Don F.

    The increase in risk is about 40%, This is not slight. Consider that tomorrow your municipality says that there will be a slight tax increase . Later you find out that it will be an increase of 40%. The impact on the studied population is slight because the original percentage is small but the change is significant.

    July 21, 2010 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Archyle

    I am a communication Disorders graduate at a school where the two prevailing thoughts on what causes autism are hotly debated by our department chairs. The question of heavy metal poisoning is a serious one and we cannot look at the FDA or ADA or AMA for the truth. There has to be an independent study done. Furthermore, diet can have an effect if a child is gluten-intolerant, but the number one indicator of language delay or autism spectrum is the early interactions between toddler and parent and the amount of attention the parent gives the child, drugs have a bit to do with it and it has been suggested through some fringe research that interracial children are predisposed, but this could just be coincidence. I know many children who have autism, and the number is growing. It could be many reasons, but typically, sense most of the adults who have autism do not breed it does not suggest that it is a genetic issue, but environmental. What then in our environment could cause such harsh reactions in children? Plastics and carbon monoxide are two possible culprits, Mercury is perhaps the most touted by the environmental-cause camp and I believe that there is some merit to that since mercury and heavy-metal poisoning shows many of the same symptoms that autistic children have. Gluten intolerance has been demonstrated to be non-related. Detection is not really easy for a child, because many "slow" language developing children are not recognised as such until a second child who develops much more rapidly comes along, causing over-worrying parents to question whether or not thier child has a developmental problem. Often times they do not and thier delay comes from a lack of interaction. Positive correlation has been shown with interactions in toddlers when it comes to language. The issue is a complex one, and there may be many other issues affecting this. children who suffer from chronic ear infections are more prone to language delay because of the possibility of damage caused by infection, which may give the outward signs of language delay, aloofness, autism. The best thing to do is get a comprehensive screening done, but this has its drawbacks as it is not easy to peg a child's development since the accepted norms up until about age six are so broad, but that does not mean that parents should give up hope on diagnosing the issue. keep these things into consideration, and read some of the literature from both camps on the argument. Also, be aware that while "research" may indicate there is no correlation between thimerasol containing immunization and vaccines, it has been known to trigger symptoms in some childre, showing there may be a genetic predisposition to this that could be triggered by thimerasol containing vaccines, this is also a hotly debated issue. Both sides claim to have conclusive evidence, and they both cannot be right, but they may both be wrong..do not get amalgam fillings if you can, but opt for resin fillings. good luck!

    July 21, 2010 at 15:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cassie

      Archyle -

      Thank you for your concern for our autistic children. It's obvious that you're studying a lot and have an honest intent to help our families. However, you need to do a little more studying. While it's true that inadequate parent/child interaction can cause language delays, that doesn't mean that all children's language delays are caused by inadequate parent/child interaction. The "refrigerator mother" theory was disproved decades ago. Also, it is possible to screen children far earlier than 6 years old. Drs and speech therapists do it all the time (though not as often as we'd like.) While at earlier ages there will be a small number of children identified as autistic who we later discover are not autistic, the kids who get early intervention for speech & behavior difficulties do far, far better in the long run. There are a lot of misconceptions out there right now about autism, because there's so much we don't know yet. A few of these misconceptions are still being taught to our future professionals, such as "refrigerator mother". It's obvious that you're working very hard to educate yourself about autism and that you want to help our families. Thank you for that. As you work more with our families you'll learn more about autism and the way it affects our families. One of the things you'll learn is that we parents are a touchy group. :-> If you really want to help our families, make sure to take a couple of psychology courses too so you'll know how to get your opinion across to parents so they'll listen.


      - Cassie

      July 21, 2010 at 17:04 | Report abuse |
    • Kirstyloo

      This author's statement about genetics does not reflect the current understanding of multifactorial disease. A disorder doesn't need to be passed from parent-to-child for it to be genetic. It does require predisposing genes to be passed. We know that heart disease and hypertension have a genetic component, but there doesn't need to be an affected parent. In addition, there are a number of disorders that decrease the likelihood of having children that are clearly genetic. Examples of single gene traits include Tay Sachs, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, Marfans, Cystic Fibrosis. There are multiple multifactorial disorders with a strong genetic component such as type II diabetes ("adult onset"), breast cancer, many forms of mental illness, and autoimmune disease.

      As a teacher of medical genetics, I think that it is important to understand most disease has some underlying genetic component.

      July 22, 2010 at 19:35 | Report abuse |
  26. Brian

    What is "autism?" It's only recently that it has been considered a diagnosis. In the past these children were considered to be mentally deficient. Some were even found to be deaf.

    July 21, 2010 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. John Toradze

    The cause of the autism epidemic is probably known. Before people jump up and down, I work on vaccines and gene therapy. There is no evidence that vaccination of children causes autism.

    But there is a researcher at Caltech who can create autistic rats at will that show the same brain changes as human autism. The rats exhibit the same lack of exploration and sensitivity as autism. He can do it by vaccinating, infecting or injecting rat mothers with nucleic acids or thalidomide in the second week of gestation. This corresponds to the known window for creating autism in humans from thalidomide starting day 27 that lasts 3 days.

    What mothers should do is avoid immunizations and infection in the first 6 weeks of pregnancy.

    July 21, 2010 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Cassie

      As a researcher you should know your science better.

      First, autistics do not exhibit decrease in sensitivity or lack of exploration. If you doubt me, find out how many researchers/students at Cal Tech have Asperger's, a mild form of autism. Having worked with many of them, I can tell you the number is high. You can't be a good researcher if you lack exploratory impulses. And if you think autistics lack sensitivity, walk up behind one and pop a balloon. After you scrape them off the ceiling you can ask them if it startled them.

      Secondly, your friend can't say he's duplicated all the changes in the brain due to autism because scientists are discovering new traits to the atustic brain every day. They don't yet know what the "autisitic brain" looks like.

      Third, if I hit a bunch of people on the head with a rock and it causes mental deficiencies, can I then say that all similar mental deficiences are caused by getting hit on the head with a rock? That's poor logic. Because you can cause symptoms similar to autism by injecting mice with thalidomide during gestation, doesn't mean that autism is caused by thalidomide. It means it's one of the many data points in finding the cause of autism. Now if there was data indicating eleveated thalidomide levels in pregnant woman whose children were later diagnoses with autism, that I'd find indicitive. That being said, I think it's dumb for us to be injecting our kids with thalidomide.

      And as far as pregnant woman avoiding immunization & infection during the first six weeks - it's a great idea, except that most women don't know they're pregnant until they're at least 2-3 weeks along; many don't know until later than that. And since in our culture pregnant woman aren't sequestered, they end up exposed to everything present at their jobsites, grocery stores, kids' schools, etc. So, scientifically is it a good idea, sure. Realistically will it work - nope.

      But kudos to you for trying to help our families. There are going to be many years of debate in the scientific community about causes of autism and possible treatment options. As a parent, I'm delighted that the debate is going on. There are a lot of people working to help my kid and others like him. Thanks for being part of that community.

      - Cassie

      July 21, 2010 at 17:30 | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      Cassie, the people you work with at Cal Tech are not representative of all "autistics." Please educate yourself.

      July 22, 2010 at 10:06 | Report abuse |
    • Kirstyloo

      I'm sorry, but I don't know how this relates. Pregnant women do NOT take thalidomide. It is a class X drug. Women of reproductive age who take are required by law to take montly pregnancy tests and use 2 forms of birth control because mother who take it early in pregnancy are at significantly increased risk of bilateral limb reductions and other profound malformations. Thalidomide is thought to slow down cell division which could affect multiple systems. Thalidomide is NOT in vaccines; however, thimerosal is in a handful of them.

      I'm not sure how the dates you give are related to autism and the brain development for a rat. The average gestation of a rat is 21-23 days so I'm unsure about the point.

      That being said, I'm very glad that there are researchers involved in this and people who follow their research.

      July 22, 2010 at 19:49 | Report abuse |
  28. ctmom

    Yes there is no cure for Autism. But the point is it might be preventable. Like the risk of spina bifida can be decreased by adding folic acid to a pregnant woman's diet, research may someday show that autism may be prevented prenatally or prenatal screening tests may become available in the future, thereby, "curing" autism

    July 21, 2010 at 16:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Robert's Moma

    @Z's Mom
    I feel the same way you do. I wouldn't chang him for nothing in this world.
    I imbrace every moment of every day.

    July 21, 2010 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Just Sayin

    I know many of you are jumping on Jennifer's comment and I don't blame you. The only people who may want to have an Autism diagnosis for their child is the parent who knows something is deeply wrong with their child but his behaviors, etc. does not warrant an "official" diagnosis. I agree, most parents are scared. Parenting is tough regardless if your child is typical or not, adding a disability, no matter which one, just adds to it. With that being said, I want to add my 2cents to what Dan in Seattle said...he has the fortune of his child being recovered. For all of you who mock him, I just want to ask why? It should be celebrated. I would love it if my son finally spoke and yes, I would say he was recovered. I would never chalk it up that maybe he never had autism to begin with. Additionally, I would just want to add, that as we all our different, so are our autistic children and the same therapies/supplements/what have you, that work with one child, may not be the same recipe that will work for your child...no reason to knock it; the same goes with other diseases out there...the kicker is that all other diseases have been well researched, unlike autism. Thankfully, though the tide seems to be turning and it's beginning to receive the attention it so desperately deserves.

    July 21, 2010 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Dichromatic '12

    Good day, all. I’m currently an undergrad at an Ivy in the clinical psychology department with a focus on development. I can’t profess extensive study in “abnormal” (field term) psych, but it’s all tied together, in the end. First and foremost, from the bottom of my heart I want to thank all the parents, siblings, and those otherwise involved with these children for sharing their thoughtful accounts and observations. As a student, I’m limited in the scope and scale of what I can actually do and your collective first-hand knowledge (and misinformation, too!) is just as important as any textbook.

    For the detractors, it’s pretty obvious that you’ve never had the chance to work with any of these children. Each one of them is a unique case with thousands of factors coming into play- admittedly, some will never achieve the most basic level of functionality and my heart goes out to them. However, others have distinctive ways of thinking that may seem like a trade-off of sorts. Dr. Harlow, who pioneered vital behavioral research with monkeys, showed several symptoms of Asperger’s. He lacked communication skills, but his research (while cruel) is still a critical cornerstone of behavioral developmental psych. Perhaps it was even his inability to consider the feelings of others that he could perform the experiments he did (which led to animal protection laws, for the record). Sometimes the inability to interact is exchanged for incredible mathematical skills. I’ll admit, some of the autistic kids I’ve worked with could probably compute circles around me.

    However, our society is one that prizes social interaction above pretty much any other skill. Why do you think Facebook is so popular? The most useful ability for today’s generation is networking. More and more it’s about who you know, not what you can actually do. I’m not saying that ability is completely unnecessary, I’m simply pointing out that society’s structure works against the symptoms of autism. If we were a purely engineering society, many of these children would likely excel.

    I’m surprised at all the negative response to this… C’mon, everyone. It’s a step forward, even if you believe it’s a small one. This shows that there’s much more to be learned and we’re working on it. Maybe (okay, okay, CERTAINLY) not at the pace that we need to be, but it is happening. The earlier the detection, the more you can do to learn (or prepare yourself to learn) about how your child “works”. Just as complex as autism is, it’ll continue to be a fight to figure out the underlying causes. A few things we do know: anyone over 36 or so should keep in very careful contact with their medical provider when deciding to have a child. The chance of having an autistic child can reach higher than 1 in 12 for women in their late 40s. But past that, it’s conjecture.

    I should stop right there, but I just have to say I desperately hope this at least somewhat clears up the bloody “oh no! Vaccinating my child against once-rampant life-threatening conditions will possibly-not-really give my child autism! I shouldn’t do it!” madness.

    For all my fellow students and researchers, don’t give up. We’re fighting the good fight and it’s one that we *can* win. For all those affected, God bless and keep you, always. For those lacking in understanding, learn. That’s what we can all do.

    July 21, 2010 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DP

      Dichromatic – I applaud your compassion and honesty at such a young age. But you should have stopped short of voicing your opinion on vaccines because that opinion is not based on anything. It can't be because no university or other research institution has ever properly studied the consequenses of injecting children under the age of two with 38 different rounds of vaccines. That is the current CDC schedule. I know that the focus has been on the MMR for a long time and the assertion that it was that one shot in particular that sends kids over the edge. That's unfortunate, because the more likely scenario is that is the sheer number of vaccines along with their toxic ingredients such as ether aluminum formaldahyde, detergent and latex ... at least one give within hours of birth (Hep B) ... that sends kids over the edge.

      This is a debate that will continue for decades. People who enter the debate love to talk about "what we know and what we don't know." Well ... we don't know whether vaccines cause autism or not because nobody has ever studied it properly. There are a few things that we do know: 1) Vaccine injury is real. Vaccine injury gets reported every day to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (www.vaers.hhs.gov/). Many of these are mild injuries but some are permanent injuries including death. These are the sacrificial lambs. And vaccine proponents will claim in the name of public health that that these kids are worth sacrificing in the name of public health.

      And this brings us to the problem: It's probably not a single vaccine that necessarily causes these injuries. It's our approach in America to vaccination. We give too many vaccinations at too young an age. For those who say there is no proof that 38 rounds of vaccinations prior to the age of two poses a health risk, I say that's true. Nobody wants to study it ... likely because it probably is dangerous for some if not many children. But we'll never know because everyone is afraid to properly study it.

      In America ... if something is good ... then more of it must be better. There is no such thing as too much. And when you can make a buck off of it ... then it's even better. The whole concept of vaccination in this country has shifted from a question of public health to a question of profit from pharmaceutical companies. We have to look no further than Merck's disgusting campaign to make Gardisil mandatory for school age girls before any real studies on safety and effectiveness were complete. Even the NIH told them to back off.

      Dichromatic ... I really hope you continue to do research in this field because you appear passionate about it. But don't dismiss the possibility of a vaccine connection. Get your people to study it! Read this article by a professor of surgery at the University of Washington and it will provide some scientific justification for delaying certain vaccines and avoiding some all together: http://www.lewrockwell.com/miller/miller15.html

      July 22, 2010 at 01:45 | Report abuse |
  32. oh please

    why moan about autistic people not working for them- why should they? What qualifies an autistic person to be able to identify other autistics? Thats freaking silly to even bring up that autistic people dont work there thats just silly. Why not say that only people who have actually HAD babies should be qualified to teach college about child birth....its silly.

    July 21, 2010 at 22:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Tired

    Well if they are like Einstein with high IQs then what is the problem? Why not let them offer the world what they can instead of trying to make them into something they are not? The research shows, however, that MR and Autism often go hand in hand. Sorry parents, you should accept and love them the way they are. It's not about YOU.
    From a reputable Medical Source: In addition to problems with social interaction, imagination, and communication, children with autism also have a limited range of interests. Many children with autism (nearly 75%) also have mental retardation. In many cases, children with autism are unable to emotionally bond with their parents or other family members.

    July 21, 2010 at 23:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dee

      Well, you've said about 3 things there that are blatantly not true about children with autism. You could at least have bothered Googling the information if you didn't have time for more reliable sources.

      July 22, 2010 at 10:11 | Report abuse |
  34. Flabbergasted

    How on God's green earth does this "identify" children with Autism like my daughter who has spoken no more than 4 words in her 7 years on this earth?! This research does not appear to be helpful in the least. I live in the U.S. not some third world nation and my daughter's idiot pediatrician still could not and (refused to) diagnose her at the age of 3 due to his fear that she would be labeled with mental retardation. Who cares what they want to call it, if she gets the help she needs. The practicing pediatricians need far more education about this disorder than they currently receive.

    July 22, 2010 at 00:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dichromatic '12

      Flabbergasted- It's not measuring words, it's measuring sounds. Pitch, frequency, duration, etc. I assume.
      As the article states, "...this automated system doesn't test languages but voice patterns, like how a baby may utter the sound "wah.""
      Apparently there's some homogeneity to how infants below are certain age use specific vocal patterns. It needs works, to be sure, but it seems somewhat less subjective to a doctor's opinion. I believe the two used in conjunction would be highly beneficial to early detection.

      Honestly I don't see how this is useless in the least. Especially you who has the experience of a doctor who couldn't diagnose your child- isn't it a good thing that doctors are developing more ways to do it? So more children *can* get the help they need? I don't understand your logic. I think I'm the flabbergasted one, here.

      July 22, 2010 at 00:16 | Report abuse |
    • DP

      Dichromatic: Flabbergasted is flabbergasted because his pediatrician would never get to the point of ever using this diagnostic tool. Parents of autistic kids don't want the money going toward these tools anymore. Nobody cares if you can detect the "possibility" of autism at 8 month of age instead of 9 months. The treatment options are so expensive that few families can afford them anyway. We need to channel the money spent on studies like this one toward figuring out causation and prevention.

      July 22, 2010 at 01:55 | Report abuse |
  35. Marian T.

    I'd like you to walk a day in my son's shoes, he's 13 and has Asperger's (look it up) To look at him you would never know he had it, but behaviorally you know. I'd like you to feel just one day of what it's like to be a teenage boy with Asperger's in middle school. Not only do the children tease him, but the teachers are absolutely intolerant of him and he's a good kid! He is mainstreamed with modified classes and OT, regular ed teachers feel they arent being paid enough to take care of Special Education students, I hope there is a special place in hell for them.

    July 22, 2010 at 01:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. autism custody battles

    I like to hear that more and more professionals now believe it is worth investigating the infancy, because clues are there and do not magically show up after vaccines. I do think they should be very slow in bringing these tests to the public because the margin of error can be huge and it is not fair to alarm frantic parents like this. Please read my blog http://autismcustodybattles.wordpress.com for divorce courts horror stories.

    July 22, 2010 at 07:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Dee

    It's nice there's a recommendation to screen between 18-24 months but most doctors in actuality will tell you to wait so the kids don't get diagnosed until 4, 5 or older, when they could have been getting early intervention.

    July 22, 2010 at 10:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. AutismDad

    This is at least a little more scientific than the picky-eater study that Time magazine reported on earlier this week. It would be so much better if there was a reliable genetic test – that's where the money for studies should go. I think more emphasis is being placed on getting pediatricians to look for and recognize autism earlier. My pediatrician stated "he's not autistic" repeatedly when we thought the possibility was rather obvious. I now have a 5-year-old who, despite our best efforts, isn't able to hold a conversation. I also have a new pediatrician.

    July 22, 2010 at 11:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Terry from West Texas

    If a blood relative of yours is autistic, you might refrain from reproducing.

    July 22, 2010 at 13:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eric G

      So, you must have proof that autism is genetic?

      July 22, 2010 at 14:07 | Report abuse |
  40. jenstate

    I like what Brain Balance has to say about autism and other neuro disorders like ADHD "are related or have in common an underlying functional imbalance or under-connectivity of electrical (brain) activity within and between the right and left sides of the brain. As a result, the brain literally becomes desynchronized or 'out of rhythm'." You can read more about their stance and how they help correct the issue here:

    July 22, 2010 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Greg

      I too like what Brain Balance says. Who wouldn't? A quick cure for Autism and ADHD by "balancing the brain" sounds great.
      However, where is the science? Where is the research? Consumer reports published an article yesterday stating that the most efficacious intervention for ADHD is a multi-modal intervention consisting of pharmacological intervention, social work, parent/teacher education, and behavior therapy.

      Facts tell. Please do not hesitate to ask any therapist where is the research demonstrating the benefits of a therapy? Parents need to seek out medically sound interventions. There has to be clear goals, measured outcomes, and constant communication between the therapist and parents about the child's progress.

      July 22, 2010 at 19:30 | Report abuse |
  41. Deborah

    Brain Balance is a franchise owned by chiropractors. Are you an investor or hvae you tried it with your child? You said you like it. What do you like about it specifically? Research must be read very carefully and with an educated eye on how to interpret it. Parents only have so many resources and so much time to find solutiuons that we must be very careful how we guide families with treatment. The study that was published this week in Consumer Reports states that CHADD supports a multimodal approach to ADHD including psychologist, behavior therapy, parent and teacher education, etc. Evidence based therapies and treatments are endorsed. Feel feel to follow our blog here:
    Best of luck to you all. May you all find peace of mind, become better educated on your childs strengths and challenges, better advocates for your child and better communicators with your teams!

    July 22, 2010 at 17:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Deborah

    The best studies regarding neurodevelopmental disorders are pointing strongly to genetics.
    Your child has the diagnosis, so treat it with the best and most studied and consistent treatments out there.

    July 22, 2010 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Tim

    If you have not looked into this, please check out http://nids.net/

    This is based on science.

    July 22, 2010 at 23:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Jenn

    I am a mother of a "recovered" yes recovered child. Previous to having my children I was an ABA therapist for children diagnosed with ASD. I saw the signs in my son at 12 months. I obtained outside intervention as well as provided countless hours of my own. I chased my son around and "forced him" to allow me into his world and to also be in my world. I did this for three years and there were many times I wanted to "run away" Today my son is enjoying life and his brothers. We also have a special bond that I know we will always have. He is recovered but I know he will always have "Autism" as part of who he is. To me Autism is not a curse on my family and son – but a gift. I am a better parent and ASD educator because of my son and will be forever grateful to him for that. My "point is – Autism is not a life sentence but a life opportunity. An opportunity to learn new ways to be a part of the "normal world". I look forward to the day when my son and I sit down and I tell him what his first few years of life were like – and to look him in the eyes and thank him for teaching me so many things about "being a parent" and love can make all things possible and that with determination and the will the "Autism" world and the "typical" world can co-exist and learn many wonderful things from each other.

    July 23, 2010 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Eileen Russell-Campbell

    Is it possible to fit a tracking device into clothes, shoes ect, my grandson is autistic. 10years old, very social but does not speak as he is getting older and more independent. he is starting to wander off and has no undersanding of fear.

    November 29, 2010 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Debi Soop

    Enjoyed looking through this, very good stuff, thanks . “To be positive To be mistaken at the top of one’s voice.” by Ambrose Bierce.


    August 8, 2016 at 12:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Paul Sioma

    Traffic Shopping


    September 11, 2016 at 10:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Isabella Zucker

    I have observed that rates for online degree professionals tend to be an excellent value. Like a full College Degree in Communication in the University of Phoenix Online consists of Sixty credits at $515/credit or $30,900. Also American Intercontinental University Online comes with a Bachelors of Business Administration with a complete program requirement of 180 units and a tuition fee of $30,560. Online learning has made getting your degree so much easier because you may earn your degree through the comfort of your abode and when you finish from work. Thanks for all tips I have certainly learned through your web-site.


    January 8, 2021 at 12:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Boost Social Media Plays

    Sweet internet site, super pattern, rattling clean and utilize pleasant.


    February 3, 2021 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. ClarkTauts

    90zpo lmq0h 9ybe

    February 28, 2021 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2

Leave a Reply to Geoz


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.