Autism is defined as a brain development disorder that is characterized by impaired social interaction, impaired communication and repetitive behavior, all starting before a child is 3 years old. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) encompasses a variety of autistic-like disorders (i.e. classic autism, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), Asperger’s syndrome, Rett Syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder).
- Boys are at higher risk than girls.
- Siblings of autistic children should be monitored closely since the likelihood of developing ASD increases.
- Symptoms can be mild to severe.
Unusual behaviors are noticed between 18 to 24 months. Some behaviors are apparent before this time. Observe for:
Lack of or delay in speech:
- No babbling by 12 months of age.
- Does not respond to name by 12 months.
- No single words by 16 months.
- No two-word spontaneous phrases by 24 months
Lack of expressions (i.e. uh-oh, huh, etc)
- Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects, rocking)
- Little or no eye contact; Lack of appropriate gaze
- Persistent fixation on parts of objects
Lack of social skills
- Little or no interest in peer relationships
- Lack of make-believe or imitative play
Lack of playing with a variety of toys
- Lack of sharing interests, enjoyment or achievements with others
- Lack of warm, joyful expressions
- No gesturing (pointing, waving goodbye, etc.) by 12 months.
- Unusual comfort objects.
- Loss of any language or social skills, at any age.
- Lack of recognition of caregiver's voice.
- Lack of or delay in speech:
- Special educational programs
- Behavioral therapy
- Speech therapy
- America Academy of Pediatrics
- Autism Research Institute
- Autism Science Foundation
- Autism Society of America
- Autism Speaks
- CDC Act Early
- Easter Seals
- First Signs
- First Words Project
Early intervention is key in treating autism. If you feel like your child has autistic tendencies, talk to your baby's healthcare provider right away.
American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society. Practice Parameter: Screening and Diagnosis of Autism. NEUROLOGY 2000;55:468–479
AAP Clinical Report: Identification and Evaluation of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders. PEDIATRICS Vol. 120 No. 5 November 2007, pp. 1183-1215. Reaffirmed December 1, 2010
Goodlee, F. (2011) Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent. BMJ 2011; 342:c745. A correction of this article can be found here http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d1678
First Words Project
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Author : Diba Tillery RN, BSN, IBCLC, CPST