What Are The Early Signs Of Autism?

Patient

Q: My grandson is 9 months old. I have heard that seemingly perfectly normal babies turn autistic without warning. What are early signs this may occur.

Doctor

A:   Autism is a developmental disorder that affects the child's normal brain development and causes problems with social and communication skills. The causes of autism are not known, though genetic factors seem to be important.
It is usually parents who notice the first signs of autism. Signs of autism typically appear before 3 years of age, and sometimes it can be detected as early as 18 months. But because autism symptoms vary greatly, two children with the same diagnosis may act quite differently and have strikingly different skills. Problems with social skills can include : lack of eye contact, failure to respond when the child is called by name, preferring to play alone, lack of expression of feelings and unable to interpret facial expressions and gestures and resistance to being held or cuddles.
The child may also show signs of repetitive movements such as rocking, flaping of hands and spinning movements. A child with autism might become obsessed with an object and are prone to tantrums. Children with autism may also experience with speech and language. They may start talking later than other children, or speak with an abnormal rhythm or voice. A detailed evaluation is always done first to confirm the diagnosis.

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