Early Diagnosis of Autism is Critical 
  Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Many children with autism don't receive a proper diagnosis until they are in an elementary school where they may be directed to appropriate professionals because of educational failure.  Even in the case of well-informed and resourceful parents, children with autism rarely receive a diagnosis before they are three or four year old.  That is too late.  They miss out an enormous number of opportunities for learning by that age.
Language, vision, motor skills, social skills and intellectual abilities develop at an astounding rate in the first few years. Scientist realize that there are critical ages for the development of these abilities.  A developmental "window," that is, the readiness of the brain for a specific learning, is open only for a certain period.  When that opportunity is missed, the learning is likely to be limited in spite of the best efforts.  

To state the obvious, the earlier the diagnosis, the better is the prognosis.  However, it has not been possible to act on the obvious because we did not have effective means of evaluating and diagnosing the condition of autism in the first couple years of life.  For example, one of the major characteristics of autism is the inability to form  relationships with peers.  It is hard to assess the ability to form peer relationships in a toddler?  We don't know to ask the right questions to parents that can give us that information,  
What you observe about babies at the clinic is also limited.  Suppose you are a psychologist evaluating a two-year old and the child doesn't demonstrate a particular behavior at your request, is it because the child has not yet acquired that behavior or that he or she is just not showing it to you that day?  Babies have this uncanny habit of knowing when to take a nap.  At the clinic, when I am ready to observe babies, a majority of them decide to take a nap.  I have a feeling that they wake up just as the leave my driveway.  

Return to Self Help

Copyright 1996, Mind Publications

Click for Dr. Sharma's credentials
Dr. Vijai Sharma
Your Life Coach
By Telephone

Feedback- Let us know how we are doing

Terms and Conditions

Web site designed and maintained by Chanda Taylor