Early Detection Lab | UC Davis MIND Institute


Early Detection Lab

Principal Investigator: Sally Ozonoff Ph.D.

researcher working with a family

About Our Research

We study how to identify autism as early in childhood as possible. Early identification of autism helps children get services when they are most beneficial. Our current studies use methods that can be done from home like online forms and video visits. The goal of this research is to find out if telehealth methods can identify autism. Being able to have an assessment at home will allow more families to get a diagnosis quickly. This will help people who live far away from medical centers have equal access to care.

What We’ve Learned
  • cute child

    How early can autism be diagnosed?

    • Signs of autism usually develop between 1 and 3 years of age
    • We rarely see signs of autism before the first birthday
    • In some children, autism can be diagnosed as early as 15-18 months of age, but many children develop symptoms later than this
    • Toddlers should be screened for autism at least twice before age 3
  • child lining up cars

    What are the first signs of autism?

    • Not responding to name
    • Not using gestures like pointing
    • Being more interested in objects than people
    • Looking at objects closely for a long time
    • Less smiling at others
  • girl playing with toys

    Losses in development

    • Using less eye contact than they used to
    • Showing less interest in people than when they were younger
  • two children hugging on playground

    Siblings of Autistic Children

    • About 20% of children who have an autistic sibling receive a diagnosis of autism themselves. This is higher than originally thought.
    • 30-40% siblings show other behavioral, social, learning or language challenges.
    • ADHD is one of the most common difficulties seen in children who have a sibling with autism.