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A14 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

M 1 • WeDneSDAy • 05.01.2019

Autism screenings at a younger age show promise BY BRADLEY J. FIKES

Tribune News Service

SAN DIEGO — Children with autism spectrum disorder can be reliably diagnosed as young as 14 months, according to a study by University of California-San Diego autism researchers. If results are confirmed by independent research, this would be the earliest age this has Pierce proven feasible. Earlier detection means earlier treatment, which should improve outcomes, said Karen Pierce, co-director of the UCSD Autism Center for Excellence. Pierce led the study with Eric Courchesne, the center’s other co-director. Autism screening should be first done at 18 months, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average age of diagnosis in the U.S. is 4 years. That gap represents a missed opportunity to guide these very young children into normal social

“The brain is very plastic. It’s developing at a really super-fast pace from birth to age 3. There’s a lot of connections that are formed between brain cells. So hopefully we can shape those connections.” Karen Pierce, co-director of the UCSD Autism Center for Excellence development, Pierce said. “The brain is very plastic. It’s developing at a really super-fast pace from birth to age 3,” she said. “There’s a lot of connections that are formed between brain cells. So hopefully we can shape those connections.” The study was published this week in JAMA Pediatrics. Results are based on development of 1,269 toddlers in San Diego County, selected from a universal screening program to

detect possible autism. Children suspected of having ASD via screening were referred for an in depth developmental evaluation by a licensed clinician to determine whether they actually had autism or some other disorder. The toddlers were originally assessed between 12 and 36 months, and had at least one follow-up evaluation. For those originally diagnosed at 14 months, 79 percent were again found to be on the spectrum at follow-up. By 16 months, the diagnosis was 83 percent reliable. However, for those diagnosed at 12 to 13 months, the rate was just 50 percent. Of the total number of toddlers assessed, seven originally placed on the spectrum went on to normal development, the study found. Contrarily, 105 toddlers originally diagnosed as not having autism were identified as being on the spectrum at a later visit. “From a policy perspective, that tells parents and pediatricians to repeat screening,” Pierce said. The study is “well done and an important first step” to identifying autism as early as possible,

OBITUARIES Cusanelli, Betty L. - Affton Flanagan-Fetsch, Juanita Marie - St. Louis Gray, Thomas "Tom" - St. Peters, MO Jerashen, Jane - St. Louis Levison, Jack A. - St. Louis

Cusanelli, Betty L. (nee Miller), Passed away peacefully at home, fortified with the Sacraments of Holy Mother Church on Saturday, April 27th, 2019 at the age of 93. Beloved wife and best friend of the late D o me n i c "Dan" Cu s a n el l i; l ovin g mot h er of M i c h a e l (D eb b ie) Cusanelli, Lorenzo (Mary) Cusanelli, Mary (Robert) Ziegler; proud grandmother of Steven Ziegler, David Ziegler, Brittany Cusanelli and Domenic Cusanelli. Preceded in death by her brothers Paul "Jake" Miller and Frank Miller. Betty was a homemaker while the children were young, then joined her husband in the family restaurant business. In retirement Betty and Dan were fortunate to enjoy good health and traveled the world for over 20 years missing only the Holy Land and The Great Wall. In addition, they were generous supporters of their church and many local institutions. She continued to be active and independent later in life. Betty was humble and had a kind spirit. She will be fondly remembered and dearly missed by all who knew and loved her. Betty and her family would like to thank the LSS caregivers and SSM Hospice for their care and assistance. Service: All services will be held privately. Contributions may be made in her name to the American Heart Association. www.hoffmeistercolonial.com

Flanagan-Fetsch, Juanita Marie (née Kirn) In the arms of Her Savior, March 30th 2019. Please visit - St.LouisCremation.com

Gray, Thomas "Tom" 66, 4/29/19. Vis. 5/3, 4 p.m. - 8 p.m., Hutchens-Stygar FH, 5987 Mid Rivers Mall Dr. Svc. 5/4, 10 a.m., Sts. Joachim & Ann Ch., 4112 McClay Rd. (St. Chas.). www.hutchensfuneralhomes.com

Jerashen, Jane (nee Kuba), now with Jesus on Monday, April 29, 2019. Beloved wife of William Jerashen; loving mother of Tammy (Mark) Endres and Cheryl (Wayne) Sell; cherished grandmother of 4; great-grandmother of 7; our dear sister, and friend to many. Services: Funeral at KUTIS SOUTH County Chapel, 5255 Lemay Ferry Rd. Friday, May 3, 10 a.m. Interment J.B. National Cemetery. Visitation Thursday, 4-8 p.m.

said David Mandell, associate director of the Center for Autism Research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Mandell said he and other autism experts have advocated earlier screening than what has been recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The task force expressed concern that false diagnoses can cause harm by needlessly stressing patients. On its website, the task force says “the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in young children for whom no concerns of ASD have been raised by their parents or a clinician.” “It really flies in the face of the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other physician groups,” Mandell said. “And so different research groups have been scrambling to try and put together pieces of the evidence.” Mandell said diagnoses of autism are known to be more stable than diagnoses of other devel-

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Celebrations of Life

Lum, John - St. Louis McLaughlin, Jeanne F. - St. Louis Miller - see Cusanelli Nieder, Shelia Lea (Williams) - Roaming Shores, OH Paubel, Dorothy - Ballwin

opmental delays, for which the task force does recommend early screening. A more skeptical view came from Mayada Elsabbagh, co-director of Transforming Autism Care Consortium, and a research scientist at Montreal Children’s Hospital. Elsabbagh said the social and communications skills measured for autism diagnosis aren’t fully developed until toddlerhood. So a specific diagnosis in infancy isn’t feasible. However, she said it is possible to detect more general signs of developmental delay in infants. “Therefore, while we can’t tell if the condition we are dealing with is autism or another form of developmental delay or problem, it’s critical that these kids and their families receive support and help during this uncertain period,” Elsabbagh said. Pierce said the study needs to be duplicated in toddlers living elsewhere than San Diego. This is now being performed in Phoenix. The evaluation criteria she developed are being used by other researchers.

Schmidt F.S.M., Sister Mary Paul - St. Louis Stallings, David P. - St. Louis Sukalski, Mitchel V. - Alexandria, VA Welch, Lark - St. Louis Ziegler - see Cusanelli

Levison, Jack A.

Sukalski, Mitchel V.

April 28, 2019, age 89; beloved father and father-in-law of Ross Levison (fiancée Miss Tony Todd) and J oH a n n a Levison Kittner (Robert); former husband of Claudia Levison Morcus; partner of Ilse Shaiper; grandfather of Jonah Roy and Jett Roy; dear uncle and friend. Services: Funeral service Friday, May 3, 10:00 a.m. at Congregation Shaare Emeth, 11645 Ladue Road. Interment following at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, 650 White Road. Memorial contributions preferred to Alzheimersprevention.org. Please visit bergermemorialchapel.com for more information. BERGER MEMORIAL SERVICE

Alexandria, VA - Mitchel V. Sukalski, 82, died April 27, 2019 after a recent move from St. Louis. Mitch is survived by his loving wife, Elayne; his children, Mitchel W., Dare, and Alyse; sisters, Lorraine and Celene; and his 6 grandchildren-Cheyenne, Sierra, Jonathan, William, Elayna, and Joseph. Born in Phila., PA in December 1936 to Mitchell Edward Sukalski and Helen Sukalski, Mitch attended St. Joseph's Prep, La Salle U., and U. of Tennessee. Between 1958 and 1969, Mitch served his country as an officer and helicopter pilot in the US Army. He was honorably discharged at the rank of Major, having earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for a daring nighttime rescue in Vietnam.

Lum, John Sunday, April 28, 2019 at the age of 94. John was born on January 24, 1925. He was inducted into the U.S. Army Air Corps, 1943 -1945. He graduated from Washington University in 1950, the same year he married Helen Haw. John was a mechanical engineer with Shure Richardson and Gross Engineering. He served on F e r g u s o n P l a n Commis s ion , president of the Kiwanis, ran y o u t h s p o r t s l ea gu es a n d a leading member of Immanuel UCC. In 2002, he was Ferguson's Citizen of the Year. John was preceded in death by his wife Helen, son Gary. Surviving are his siblings, Rose Char, Helen Belz, Emmett Lum, Nancy O'Connor; his children Barbara Lum, Beverly Lum, Philip, (Denora) Lum, their children Johnathan, Deborah and George; Joan, (Barton) Moy, their children Sela and Matthew; Arthur, (Beth) Lum, their children Joseph and James, and many cousins, nieces, and nephews. Services: Visitation is Fri., May 3, from 5-8 p.m. at Immanuel UCC, 221 Church St., Ferguson, MO, and on Sat., 9:30-10:30 a.m. Funeral at 10:30 a.m., Valhalla Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Immanuel UCC. www.valhallafunerals.net

McLaughlin, Jeanne F. Thursday, April 25, 2019. Visitation at KUTIS AFFTON CHAPEL, 10151 Gravois, Thursday, May 2, 5-7 p.m. Funeral service Friday, 10:15 a.m. Interment National Cemetery.

Nieder, Shelia Lea (Williams) 62, of Roaming Shores, Ohio, passed away Thursday, April 25, 2019. Shelia was born November 15, 1956 in Wentzville, Missouri, the daughter of Landon and Oma Maurice Williams. Shelia is survived by her husband of 29 years, Dwayne Nieder, her three children, Shawn (Courtney) Schlueter, Jessica (Mitchell) Hatfield, and Timothy Nieder; brother Charles (Diane) Williams; grandchildren, Pollux Gilbert, Gabryella, Mitchy, Jr. and Kaillynn Hatfield; her best friend, Debbie Adams; and her dogs, Mia and Marley. She is preceded in death by her parents. Services: Visitation will be held Friday, May 3, 2019 from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m.. at Pitman Funeral Home, 1545 Wentzville, MO. Burial will take place Saturday, May 4, 21019 at 10 a.m. at Eternal Peace Cemetery. Online obituary and condolences at www.ducro.com

Services: May 3, at Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria, VA at 4:00 p.m. (visitation at 3:00 p.m.). Arlington National Cemetery burial at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations to The Assist. League of STL alstl.org.

Welch, Lark (nee Hampton), April 29, 2019. Asleep in Jesus. Dearest wife of the late Kenneth Welch; dear mother of Todd Cash, Derek Cash, Heather Avioli and Christopher Welch (Nicole); proud grandmother of Dominic Cash, Louis Avioli II, Samantha and Evan Cash, Lacey and Madeline Welch; beloved daughter of the late Leroy and Eulah Hampton (nee Parish); dear sister of the late Angela Hampton and survived by brothers Don, R.D. and David Hampton; our dear sister-in-law, aunt, great-aunt, cousin & friend. Services: Visitation at the Ortmann-Stipanovich Funeral Home, 12444 Olive Blvd., Creve Coeur, MO 63141 on Wed., May 1, 5:308 p.m. Funeral Service in Immaculate Conception Chapel at Chaminade College Preparatory, 425 S. Lindbergh, St. Louis, MO 63131 on Thur., May 2 at 10 a.m. (meet at Chaminade). Private Interment. Donations to Chaminade College Preparatory, 425 S. Lindbergh Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63131. Arrangements by Kevin & Ellen O'Sullivan Ortmann Stipanovich Funeral Home osfuneralhomes.com

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Paubel, Dorothy 79, April 28, 2019. Memorial service at Manchester UMC, Ballwin, Saturday, 11:00 a.m. For more info, see Schrader.com

Schmidt F.S.M., Sister Mary Paul Baptized into the hope of Christ's Resurrection, on Monday, April 29, 2019. Our dear friend and Sister in Religious Life. Services: Visitation at The Sarah Community, 12284 DePaul Dr., Bridgeton, MO on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 from 1:15 p.m. until time of funeral Mass at 2 p.m. Interment Calvary Cemetery. A KUTIS CITY service.

Stallings, David P. after a long illness, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Loving father of Joshua (Cindi) Stallings, Luke Stallings, Kyle Stallings, Maura Stallings and the late Ryan Stallings and David "D.J." Stallings Jr.; dear grandfather of Tobias Edwards; loving son of Allen and the late Sue Ann Stallings; dear brother of Steve (Laurie) Stallings; dear uncle, cousin and friend to many. David loved sports, music and the movies. Services: Funeral service Thursday May 2, 9:30 am at the Hoffmeister South County Chapel, 1515 Lemay Ferry Rd. St. Louis, MO. with visitation from 8:00 am until time of service. Interment National Cemetery, Jefferson Barracks, MO. Memorial donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Association. Share your condolences online at www.hoffmeistersouthcounty.com

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