Austin Regional Clinic participating in autism app study
January 17, 2020
“It has been proven that early diagnosis of autism will enable you to have early intervention,” says Dr. Jacques Benun, Pediatrician at ARC Manor. In this recent interview with the Austin-American Statesman, Dr. Benun explained how a new app being studied at Austin Regional Clinic could help speed up the diagnosis process for children with suspected autism behavioral disorder.
ARC is part of a nation-wide study. We are enrolling participants through January 2020. Testing will be done through February 2020, and then Cognoa will analyze the results to submit for FDA approval, hopefully by March 2020. Approval can take about six months.
The importance of early diagnosis of autism
The brain has two huge periods of growth. From birth until age five, it is either building neuroconnections or pruning them, and at adolescence, the frontal lobe is maturing. In kids five and younger with autism, the brain often prunes the neuroconnections that it needs because there’s too much sensory input to process.
Cognoa, a California-based company, is developing the app to improve access to diagnosis, which would help avoid kids with autism pruning too many neuroconnections, by diagnosing them earlier and giving them access to therapies sooner.
Dr. Benun, who is the lead researcher at ARC in a new study that is testing the app, says that diagnosis can take months or even years. Kids sit on waiting lists instead of starting therapy. “It’s frustrating for me,” he says. “I can’t do anything about it. It’s frustrating to parents.” But with this app, that diagnosis process can be accelerated, which in turn means children can start therapies sooner.