Could your child be developing autism? - Evewoman

Could your child be developing autism?

New research on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) paints an interesting picture of multiple repetitive behaviour observed in infants at 12 months are associated with a highly significant risk for a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at the age of two years.

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Investigators at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill found that infants with three or more types of repetitive behaviour at 12 months of age were four times more likely to meet diagnostic criteria for ASD at two years compared with low-risk infants and, importantly, high-risk infants who were not diagnosed with ASD at two years.

Autism is a disease characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and by restricted and repetitive behaviour.

Autism is one of three recognized disorders in the autism spectrum, the other two being Asperger syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.

Autism has a strong genetic basis, and the number of diagnosed people has increased dramatically since the 1980s. The hallmark feature is impaired social interaction.

The autistic baby may be unresponsive to people or focus intently on one item to the exclusion of others for long; and may fail to respond to his/her name, often avoiding eye contact with other people. They have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling because they cannot understand social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions. They often engage in repetitive movements such as rocking and twirling, or in self-abusive behaviour such as biting or head-banging.

The lead investigator Jason Wolff, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry notes that ‘it’s not an onerous task for parents to identify early warning signs, since it’s the kind of behaviour they are able to observe and report on, so it gives us great hope in terms of thinking about next steps and how we might improve our screening tools to assess for autism risk in a very young child.”

The way forward is for parents to be observant of their child. If these signs are present, your child may need to be evaluated by a doctor.

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