New research indicates that a simple smell test can accurately diagnose children suffering from ASD or autism spectrum disorder.
The test was conducted with 36 children participants who were exposed to both pleasant and unpleasant smells. Overall, the study suggests that people with suffering from ASD cannot make adjustment to unpleasant smells as the others do.
ASD is reported to affect one out of every 160 children worldwide. Their behavior, as well as social interactions and their communication skills are strongly impacted by ASD. Little is known so far about autism spectrum disorder.
Is it inherited genetically? Are children born with it or does ASD develop later in life? All questions are still keeping scientists on their toes.
Yet this simple test could go a long way to determine a few needed answers. Out of the 36 children involved in the study, 18 were suffering from ASD, while 18 were normally developing children.
A red tube transmitted alternatively pleasant and unpleasant smells, while a green tube registered the adjustment and reactions to each of the smells. Changes in breathing patterns were an indication of how the children registered the smells.
The normally developing children quickly responded to the unpleasant smells.
The average response and adjustment time in this case was of 305 milliseconds as the children switched from a pleasant to an unpleasant smell or between smells of the same type. For children suffering from ASD, the adjustment time was inexistent.
Throughout the test, the researchers registered no reaction to either smells. The difference in adjustment time was overwhelming.
Liron Rozenkrantz, Ph.D. student and researcher on the study, commented:
“Children with autism didn’t show this modulation at all – they took the same sniff for the smell of shampoo as they did for rotten fish. This is striking and somewhat surprising.”
Following further trials, the test could become an invaluable tool to detect autism from the youngest of ages. Usually, a child is diagnosed as suffering from ASD at the age of at least two.
This ten-minute test could radically change the diagnosis process, given its accuracy, according to the National Autistic Society.
Following the test, the ASD diagnose was correct in 81 percent of cases. That is a surprising rate of accuracy considering it is not a complicated test that requires task to be followed or actions of any kind.
The results of the study, published in the Current Biology journal, could become the stepping stone for a more performant, accurate and rapid ASD diagnosis tool.
Image Source: sciencenews.org