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Study Shows Treatment In Infants Reduces Symptoms Of Autism

(CBS) -- There is new hope in the fight against autism and it starts before a child is even diagnosed.

CBS’s Roseanne Tellez reports on the results of a very small study with big implications.

Well before three and a-half-year-old Chase Goodman was diagnosed with autism, his mother saw troubling signs. In fact, when Chase was just four-months-old she requested an early intervention screening.

Kim Goodman says the difference, “It was a huge leap that he took."

Goodman was not surprised that a new study out of UC Davis found treatment in infants as young as six-months-old "significantly reduced autism symptoms." in fact, six of seven children in the study "caught up in all of their learning skills and their language" by age two to three.

"I was shocked that it hadn't been done before,” said Goodman.

Clinical psychologist Rachel Loftin says researchers familiar with symptoms in older children weren't sure what signs to look for in babies.

"The developmental level six-month-old is very different than the three- to four-year old,” said Loftin. "This was the first time where someone's done intervention to prevent further symptoms of autism from developing."

Loftin says that a lot of neuropathways are already formed when a child gets older, making it harder to expand.

"He's always going to have autism, but so long as he can continue to make progress and learn and try to be an independent individual in life that's all I'm hoping for," said Kim Goodman.

Autism is typically diagnosed between three and four years of age. But the babies in the study exhibited familiar symptoms like decreased eye contact, a lack of engagement and unusual repetitive patterns.

The take away here is that even without a diagnosis, intervention and therapy could make a big difference.

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