How to better detect social differences in autism?


Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is currently diagnosed, treated and tracked by observation alone. Subjective interpretation and symptoms-based treatments make all aspects of autism more an art than a science. At present, a diagnosis defined by issues with social interactions only accounts for the child’s reactions to prompts by an examiner, but provides no account on the roles of the examiner and the dyad as a whole in the final score labeling the child.

At the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SFN) Caroline Whyatt, the Postdoctoral Associate from Elizabeth Torres Lab presented work on the first steps towards correcting the current way to detect autism through the use of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS). To do it properly, both researchers got ADOS certified and learned the intricacies of the test. They worked with ADOS seasoned Pediatrician Audrey Mars to provide the field with a new comprehensive tool that complements the valuable expertise of the clinical eye with proper instrumentation and sensory-motor based analytics. Since social dyadic interactions occur in therapeutic interventions as well, the outcome-measures of this research -funded by the NJ Governor’s Council for the Research and Treatment of Autism and by the Nancy Lurie Marks Family Foundation- are bound to serve more than one purpose at the intersection of basic science, diagnosis, patient care and insurance coverage. This is what the SpectrumNews thought about the work when Caroline presented it at SFN in Chicago this October.

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