A new research claims that children’s response to pleasant and unpleasant smells can indicate autism spectrum disorder (ASD) early in their lives. The scientists found that people suffering from this condition don’t make the adjustments other people make when they smell an unpleasant odor.

Noam Sobel of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, the leader of this study, says that there was a big difference between the sniffing patterns of the typically developed children and children suffering from autism. He claims that he can identify autism and its severity in less than 10 minutes. He can do it by using a non-verbal test which doesn’t involve a task.

The study used a “computer-controlled air-dilution olfactometer” along with a “pediatric nasal cannula”. The study conducted tests on 18 children with ASD and 18 typically developed children with an average age of seven. The typical children adjusted their sniffing in just 305 milliseconds, while the children with ASD did not have this response. The difference in the sniffing response was enough to classify the children with or without a diagnosis of ASD 81% of the time!

Sobel and his team hope that this study will pave the way for more comprehensive research on ASD in the future.

Autism is a fast growing development disorder, with 1 of every 68 children being diagnosed with the disease in the USA. It mostly affects male children.