Autism Breakthrough - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Autism Breakthrough

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Niko Stevens loves playing with his big brother Shawn.

Niko is 3. He is autistic and doesn't speak.

"It's really frustrating because a lot of times it's a guessing game. He can't say 'well, mommy I just want a hug. Mommy I just want a kiss,'" says mother Violet Stevens.

A new study finds the way an autistic child's brain responds to words at an early age can help predict the child's future language skills and social behavior.

Researchers tested the brain patterns of 2 year olds on the autism spectrum. They found children who had patterns similar to a typical child progressed well by age 4 and 6. But children whose response was more scattered went on to struggle.

"It will help us to identify very early in life -this is at age 2-which children are going to have difficulties so that we can then provide them with extra treatments," says Dr. Geraldine Dawson.

About 20% of children with autism do not speak. Research has shown these children can benefit from iPads or speech-generating devices.

Niko's mom says even though he cannot talk he can communicate.

"If he is thirsty, he'll get his cup, he'll bring his cup. If there's a toy he wants, he'll bring it to you."

She remains optimistic the words will come.

"They can't say he's definitely going to talk but you just have to hopeful that he can."

And if he doesn't, they're prepared to handle it as a family.

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