LENA Foundation has increased the accuracy of the LENA Autism Screen (LAS) to 91 percent for children 24 to 48 months. LAS - the first automatic and totally objective autism screen - is now as accurate or more accurate than other autism screens currently available to parents and clinicians.
"We're thrilled with this leap in accuracy, especially on the eve of the launch of LAS for parents of young children who want to screen their child for autism spectrum disorders (ASD)," said Terrance (Terry) D. Paul, president of the foundation. "LAS is truly revolutionary because the analysis is based on the child's vocalizations in the natural home environment. It will allow parents to quickly and inexpensively screen children as young as 24 months, enabling earlier interventions while reducing the anxiety of 'not knowing.'"
The LAS, scheduled for release in mid-September, will also include an automatic screen for language delays; the LAS is priced at $200. LAS is expected to be warmly embraced by parents and clinicians in the United States, where 1 in 150 children has ASD and more than 5 percent of children have language delay. Despite the "autism epidemic" and the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that pediatricians screen children twice for autism by the age of two, the average age of diagnosis is 5.7 years. This diagnostic lapse adds up considerably in financial and societal costs. The estimated cost of treating a person with ASD over a lifetime ranges from $3.5 to $5 million; however, with early detection, such as that enabled by the LAS, it is estimated that costs can be reined in by up to two thirds, reducing that range to $1.2 to $1.7 million. Of course, the improvement in the quality of life enabled through earlier intervention for both autism and language delay is unquantifiable.