New research suggests that autism in toddlers can be detected via sniff test

Scientists now believe that they have found a way in which to detect Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in toddlers. The “sniff” test, usually shows that an individual sniffing pleasant smells will sniff more deeply and for longer than when they sniff unpleasant smells.

What scientists have found is that children with ASD will sniff in the same way, regardless of whether the smell is pleasant or unpleasant.

36 children took part in the sniff test.

The BBC report that the National Autistic Society believe that the sniff test could  become an additional tool in the early detection of autism. Dr Judith Brown told:

“Getting a diagnosis is a crucial step to unlocking vital support services which can make a huge difference to people on the autism spectrum and their families.

“We believe that the possibility of developing a single and universal diagnostic test for autism is unlikely.

“However, in future, if these initial findings are confirmed and fully understood, differences relating to processing smell may offer an additional tool in the necessarily multi-faceted process of diagnosing autism.”

PhD student Liron Rozenkrantz, who was involved in the research told the BBC:

“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.”

Pioneer News reported that Dr Noam Sobel, lead researcher, told that the difference between children with autism and typically developing children was “overwhelming”, further adding:  “We can identify autism and its severity with meaningful accuracy within less than 10 minutes using a test that is completely non-verbal and entails no task to follow.”

Dr Sobel further adds that the research findings raises hope for the development of a diagnostic tool that could be used for toddlers, therefore allowing for early and effective intervention.

One of the main benefits is that children do not have to communicate to perform the test, therefore making it a useful tool for very young children.

Source: Sylvia Fernandez: Pioneer News website: Sniff Test Could Diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorder in Toddlers

: BBC News: Sniffing could provide autism test