The Early Social Development Lab of USC studies autism

The Early Social Development Lab of USC studies autism

GREENVILLE, SC (Fox Carolina) - April is World Autism Awareness month. 
 
Autism Speaks says it's a time where stories are shared and opportunities are provided to increase understanding and acceptance of people with Autism, fostering worldwide support.
 
A team at the University of South Carolina is working on a study to research Autism before the age of one. They're looking for paid volunteers.
 
Last year, the Centers for Disease Control reported that one in every 54 children in our country is diagnosed with Autism. 
 
Psychologist Dr. Jessica Bradshaw and a team at The Early Social Development Lab of USC are hoping finding the signs early can create better possibilities for autistic children.
 
Brianna Morgan, of Greenville, noticed the signs in her son early on.
 
"We first started really noticing the signs when he was around one with the sensory processing disorder; with not liking bath time, loud noises," Morgan said.
 
Her son is six, and she says doctor's didn't rush to diagnose him at an early age.
 
 
"Social anxiety: we'd go out in crowds and he'd kind of would ball up in almost like a fetal position and start pinching his face," Morgan said.
 
 
Morgan says, luckily, his school had a program that diagnosed him this year. 
 
Dr. Bradshaw says there are benefits to early intervention. The lab launched research efforts with an infant study following babies through their first two years of life and monitoring their social, motor, and language skills as they grow.
 
"My hope is that if we can identify earlier, then we can develop interventions that will help caregivers understand how to interact with their child; so maybe at a higher likelihood of developing Autism, so that we can, maybe, decrease some of those challenging behaviors," Bradshaw said.
 
Bradshaw says Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, is a neuro-developmental disability that is categorized by differenced in social interactions, social communications, and the presence of restricted interest and repetitive behaviors. 
 
"We know that Autism can be diagnosed by age two or three years, but, earlier than that, we don't really know what the predictors of Autism are," Bradshaw said.
 
Morgan says early intervention would have helped her son greatly.
 
"If doctors are wanting to do these researches early on—even before signs really occur in Autism for any child; it would just be nice to know to prepare," Morgan said.
 
Morgan says now her son gets excited about school and is making friends.
 
Dr. Bradshaw says their looking for more paid participants for their study. The best prospects are babies under six months and pregnant moms—particularly if they have a sibling already diagnosed with Autism.
 
Bradshaw says Autism can be genetic, so if you already have a child with the disorder, the sibling has a 20 percent chance to develop ASD as well.
 
You can learn more here.

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