Need for Early Detection and Intervention
Today there are more than 36,000 children in Georgia with an autism spectrum disorder. Although it is possible to diagnose autism at 18 months, many of these children go undiagnosed until they are an average of 4 or 5 years old. This is especially true for minority children and children from rural areas. The autism diagnostic process currently takes about a day and a half and is usually done by a neuro-pediatrician and a psychologist, in collaboration with several other specialists. It is a costly procedure and with limited trained teams of professionals that are qualified to help, there are often long waiting lists.
The eye-tracking device that Dr. Ami Klin and Dr. Warren Jones have developed and built can predict the likelihood of autism to a high degree. They pair their diagnostic work with an early intervention program. The goal of this project is to place 10 eye-tracking devices in high-volume pediatric centers in greater Atlanta so infant patients can be tested for autism as they are tracked for other developmental milestones. We have the potential to move diagnosis from a subjective screening measure to a quantitative test. We expect to significantly enhance the positive impact of early intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders. Reaching the fundraising goal of $250,000 will afford the purchase of an eye-tracking device in Forsyth County to be used for early detection and intervention which are essential for children with autism. The sooner a child is seen, the more effective the therapy. Waiting months to be seen due to a lack of funding directly impacts each child’s future success.