World Autism Awareness Day: Studies Claim Grandmothers Can Identify Early Signs of Autism

Sushmita Sengupta  |  Updated: April 01, 2017 17:24 IST

World Autism Awareness Day: Studies Claim Grandmothers Can Identify Early Signs of Autism
In the wake of World Autism Awarness Day that would be celebrated tomorrow, a new study has brought forth findings that could aid early detection of autism in children, and promote necessary intervention at an earlier stage.People diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD) face difficulties in their overall social and emotional skills. Repetition of a certain typical behaviour or varying ways of paying attention and learning are other common symptoms of ASD. Symptoms can be brought down considerably with early diagnosis and treatment.  A recent study published in the journal Autism claims, children with autism who spend a considerable time with their grandmothers, can have their condition diagnosed at an early age. The study suggests that the time and close proximity between grandmothers and grandchildren, can help grandmother suspect signs early.

One of the most pure forms of relationships in the word is that of a grandchild and his grandparents. Number of studies have shown how children who have their grandparents playing an influential role in their upbringing tend to have an enhanced personality growth. The study brings forth another strong manifestation of the close bond between grandparents and grandchildren.

Commenting on the importance of the finding author of the study Joseph Buxbaum of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York asserted that elderly grandparents have the potential to lower the age of diagnosis which can further set the process of treatment to a sooner pace.

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While the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be identified in toddlers at around 2 years of age, in many cases the condition is not diagnosed they are closer to 4.
Younger kids have more adaptable brains than older children, therefore the earlier the condition is diagnosed the better. 
An online survey of parents of children with autism as well as some friends and family members was conducted. It was reported that nearly 25 percent of the time another person close to the child noticed signs of autism first. As per the study, on a an average kids were diagnosed with the autistic condition when they were about 40 months old, however in the case of a close association with grandmother and the child, the condition was diagnosed about 5 months sooner.
 Around 50 percent of friends and family suspected something wrong with the child before they were aware that the parents themselves noticed something wary.

For the study researchers examined data from 477 parents of children with autism and from 106 close friends and family members.
In their evaluation of family structure influences at the time of detection they found 
that children having no siblings were diagnosed with autism about six months earlier on average than kids with siblings living in the same house at the time of their diagnosis. Another factor that plays the key role is birth order, kids with older siblings tend to get diagnosed about 9 to 10 months sooner than children who only have younger siblings.
27 percent of the time it was the child’s maternal grandmother who first identified the possibility of autism in the child, according to the survey, teachers came close second (24 percent of the cases).All together, grandparents on both sides of the family noticed the potential for autism before parents did about 59 percent of the time.
Admitting  to  the limitations of the study, the author noted that the families weren’t representative of the state’s population, a major chunk of the population was underrepresented in the study, and neither is the study an analysis of the direct impact of grandmothers and teachers on the children at the time of diagnosis,but the findings do indicate toward the pivotal role  that can be played by  close friends and family members. Parents need to open up to the concerns foreshadowed by their close relatives, friends and their own parents.


About Sushmita SenguptaSharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.

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