(NBC News) - New research suggests it's possible to reverse the symptoms of the disorder if caught early.
A small study led by Dr. Sally Rogers at the University of California Davis MIND Institute taught the families of seven babies suspected of having autism to hone in on very subtle social cues.
"The parents had very well-developed parent-child interaction skills. They knew what to do for a baby, but they didn't know what to do for a baby who didn't give them any cues," Rogers explains.
The families met with doctors for an hour each week for three months, but did most of the intervention at home on their own.
Six of the seven children had no developmental delays by ages 3 and 4. Outside experts say that while early, the study shows real promise.
"If something like this does work, the excitement part there would be we have an additional treatment that could be implemented early on that perhaps could lessen the severity of this disorder," says Dr. Max Wiznitzer of Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital.
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