Researchers say that MRIs can show changes in the brain that indicate autism as early as six months into a child’s life, which could help speed up the diagnosis and treatment plan for children and limit the possibility of the condition becoming severe. Insurers have recently said that the cost of autism is increasing not just from the increased awareness and diagnosis but from children ages 6 to 12 and 12 to 18 who are at a more severe point on the spectrum. For many, says Charla Fields, a behavioral therapist in Ann Arbor Michigan, the child was improperly diagnosed or ‘schools and families simply mislabeled the child’. Study co-author, Stephen Dager, MD, a radiology professor at the University of Washington, says children could do much better if therapists could ‘intervene earlier’ with greater certainty of diagnosis. Insurers have, however, stopped short of allowing MRI at such an early age. But Christopher Whitlow, MD, a radiology professor at Wake Forest Medical Center, thinks that combining quantitative MRI measures with what he calls ‘deep learning algorithms’ will help identify patterns of brain development likely too difficult to detect from just observing someone.