MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Karen Pierce, Ph.D.
, Department of Neurosciences, UCSD
, Autism Center of Excellence, UCSD
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
The mean age of ASD diagnosis and eventual treatment remains at ~52 months in the United States1
- years beyond the disorder’s prenatal origins2
, and beyond the age when it can be reliably diagnosed in many cases3
Currently the only way to determine if a child has autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is to receive a developmental evaluation from an experienced clinician (usually a licensed clinical psychologist). There are often long waiting lists, and only a small number of clinicians have the experience required to make early-age (i.e., between 12-36 months) diagnoses of ASD. Thus, there are many places in the country as well as world wide wherein children wait months or years to receive a formal diagnosis due to a lack of available expertise. Moreover, diagnostic evaluations are expensive and usually cost the parent and/or insurance approximately ~$2,000 or more per evaluation. Finally, clinical evaluations usually take between 2-3 hours to complete and result in fatigue for both the parent and toddler.
Eye-tracking, which generates biologically-relevant, objective, and quantifiable metrics of both visual and auditory preference profiles in babies and toddlers in just minutes, is a technology that can dramatically change how ASD is diagnosed.