Researcher Dennis Wall at Harvard Medical School says he can
diagnose autism in a matter of minutes.
Any parents who have gone through a diagnosis of autism for their
child know that it is a lengthy and complicated process. With the number of cases of autism at
an estimated 1 in 88 (an increase from 1 in 110), researchers and doctors are
finding a need to diagnose it earlier and quicker.
Wall’s tool utilizes seven online questions and a short home
video of the child. Other
diagnostic tools include the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS),
which investigates social interaction and language, and the Autism Diagnostic
Interview, Revised (ADI-R), which includes no less than 93 questions. These tools can take hours, so Wall’s
proposal of a tool that takes only a few minutes is quite startling and
receiving a great deal of skepticism amongst the research and autism community.
Wall’s assessment can be taken at home, and the child would
not even have to see a clinician.
The two- to five-minute video of the child playing in his home
environment, along with the answers to seven questions completed online, is
evaluated by a trained analyst.
The analyst then answers eight additional questions and is able to
provide a diagnosis.
Wall compared his results to over 2,700 ADI-R tests, and he
found the accuracy of his tool stacks up well against the other assessments. Wall says he wants every family to have
access to a diagnosis.
Skeptics, including Catherine Lord, developer of the ADOS,
say that Wall’s assessment tool does not provide an adequate diagnosis. She says that clinicians still need to
speak with and interact with the child in question.
Wall agrees that the other assessment tools are valid, but
he says they are impractical.
People in rural areas might not have access to a clinician who can
diagnose autism, and the age at which children are diagnosed (age four or
later) is too late to receive proper early intervention and treatment. Wall hopes that his assessment tool can
match the increasing rate of autism and help children with autism receive care
sooner than before.
Photo by Playingwithbrushes