KTTU "In Focus," Sunday, 12/18/11, 10:30 AM

Posted: Updated:
By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

Host Bob Lee interviews Ann Mastergeorge, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Early Childhood Extension Specialist, U of A Norton School of Family & Consumer Sciences. Autism spectrum disorder vary widely and can be a lifelong disability for many.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects as many as 1 in every 110 children in the United States. Mastergeorge is looking at the effects of “parent-mediated intervention” on a child’s development.

Mastergeorge says the disorder is characterized by varying degrees of impairment in communication skills and social abilities, and also by repetitive behaviors. She says symptoms range from mild to severe. She says a milder form of the disorder is known as Asperger's Syndrome.  

Mastergeorge says some signs of autism can appear in children as young as 12 months.  She says these include not responding to their name and not pointing or showing or sharing objects. She says those are huge red flags, and it's about getting people to pay attention to them…parents and pediatricians in particular.  She saiys early detection and intervention are keys to providing young children with the opportunity to grow developmentally.  

Mastergeorge says early indications show that many children do improve significantly when parents learn techniques to facilitate their child's engagement in activities. She says families in the “parent-mediated intervention” program are given toys and instructions to take home, along with a video camera to capture their interactions with their children. She says the videos are a way to provide feedback to parents.  She says spending just 15-minutes a day with their child has shown to significantly improve the child's development and interaction.