I’ve been watching some of the TED talks that have been done over the past few years. There is no doubt that it’s becoming ever more difficult to keep up with the changing world of science and especially anything to do with healthcare. Just a couple of days ago I learned that antioxidants may not be the panacea they have been touted to be. So now I have to rethink my supplement choices and make sure my vitamins are “low dose.”
One of the most important TED talks I’ve seen concerned diagnosing children with developmental disorders and how we’re doing it all wrong. An estimated one in six children suffers from a developmental disorder including:
Learning disorders (Dyslexia, speech & language disorders)
Attention disorders (ADD, ADHD)
Autism spectrum (Autism, Asperger’s)
Genetic disorders (Down & William Syndromes)
Sensory processing disorder
Epilepsy, seizures, sleep disorder
Traditionally, these disorders have been diagnosed in children by observing their behavior.
In 2010, Aditi Shankardass gave a short TED talk about research she and her colleagues were doing at Harvard. Using an EEG, researchers were able to look at a child’s brain activity while awake and map the areas of activity in real time. Use of these tools leads to a precise neurological diagnosis. She goes on to explain that about 50% of those seen in the clinic diagnosed with autism, actually have brain seizures not detectable from observing behavior alone. Once these children receive appropriate anti- seizure meds, their conditions resolve.
Which leads to all kinds of questions. The latest statistic about the prevalence of autism is that it affects 1 in 88 children (1 in 54 boys: 1 in 252 girls). Does this research mean that half of autism isn’t autism, and in fact, easily treatable? What about the rest of the disorders? How many haven’t been diagnosed because observing behavior doesn’t catch the problem, and just as scary, how many are wrongly diagnosed? How many children and parents are suffering needlessly?
Dr. Shankardass ends her talk with a plea to spread the word about this non-invasive, diagnostic technique.
Watch TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/aditi_shankardass_a_second_opinion_on_learning_disorders.html
Read article from MEDICAL NEWS TODAY: June 2012: New EEG Test for Autism