Jenny Jerome hugs her son Sam at Toowoomba West Special School.
Jenny Jerome hugs her son Sam at Toowoomba West Special School. Dave Noonan

Research breakthrough gives hope to city's autism carers

A BREAKTHROUGH in autism research has given hope to Toowoomba mum Jenny Jerome in her daily battle to raise three children.

Mrs Jerome and her husband John's 11-year-old son Sam was diagnosed with autism seven years ago.

She is sure their 10-year-old son George also has autism, but has struggled to have him diagnosed.

They also have a seven-year-old daughter Kaitlyn.

News of a blood screening test designed to detect autism in children as young as 12 months was welcomed by Mrs Jerome.

The test was announced by Director of the University of California's Autism Centre of Excellence Professor Eric Courchesne yesterday at the Asia Pacific Autism Conference being held in Adelaide.

"We have identified several gene networks that are a common thread in autism," Prof. Courchesne said.

He said the blood screening test could be developed in the next two years.

"At this stage it's looking very promising that the blood screening test will have high accuracy, specificity and sensitivity for children at risk of autism."

Mrs Jerome said having George diagnosed would lead to him having access to the care he needed.

"If he doesn't get diagnosed he is just a naughty child.

"I've known for at least five years that he is not right.

"He is smart but he hasn't got the skills to deal with life.

"I think that test would be amazing."

Sam's condition and George's behaviour control the rest of their family's life.

Sam needs constant supervision.

"He's got no safety idea at all.

"Life is very restricted because of that."



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