Has a simple and accurate diagnostic test for autism been right in front of our eyes the whole time?

A simple penlight pupil test that is commonly used by pediatricians may be able to diagnose autism disorder according to a Washington State University study. This simple test may lead to a physiological measurement of autism. Currently, autism is diagnosed with a somewhat subjective behavioral evaluation which cannot be confirmed until the child is 2 to 3 years old. Valuable early intervention time is lost waiting for this type of diagnosis which is why an ordinary penlight pupil test for autism can be an extraordinary breakthrough.

The Washington State University study was led by Georgina Lynch, assistant clinical professor of speech-language pathology. The test for autism was conducted on 24 children between the ages of 10 and 17 with half of the participants having been previously diagnosed with high functioning autism. The test measured the pupil’s response to flashes of light. 70 percent of the pupil reflex tests positively predicted autism because the pupils of the children with autism took longer to constrict those of the participants without autism. The pupil test for autism is going to be validated with a larger pool of participants including children younger than 10 years old.

The Kidmunication Point

This is truly wonderful news for several reasons:
1. If this simple penlight pupil test for autism proves to be accurate in young children, especially children under the age of 2, then children with autism can get the therapy they need earlier in their development. This will greatly improve their chances of being high functioning as teens and adults.
2. If the tests just require a penlight that doctors already have, then the diagnostic protocol can be rolled out to pediatricians and family doctors worldwide quickly and inexpensively. I suspect that some eye tracking device will be needed to measure the reflex time, but that shouldn’t be too expensive to implement either.
3. Finally, if this simple penlight pupil test is inexpensive, that it will be accessible to every child.