How to Recognize Signs of Autism

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The signs of autism are often recognized between the ages of 18 and 24 months, and these signs include joint attention, disinterest in the sound of his own name, failure to understand basic verbal commands and failure to speak before 18 months of age. Recognize common early symptoms of autism with advice from a practicing pediatrician in this free video on autism.

Part of the Video Series: Autism Information
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Dr. David Hill. And today we're going to be talking about, how to recognize signs of autism. It used to be that we only recognized autism in children who were relatively severely affected and relatively advanced, between 18 and 24 months of age, sometimes as late as age 3. But as we learn more about autism spectrum disorders we're learning to identify the signs and symptoms much earlier. The first thing we look for is something called, joint attention or JA for short. That means a child is looking to a parent, usually a mother, for signs as to how to respond to something novel, or where to look. For example, when I walk into an infant's room, especially starting around 9 months, I watch to see if that infant looks at me, then looks at his mother, and then looks back at me. That means the infant is checking mom's face for queues, and that suggest that the infant understands that mom's face is an important place to get social queues about the world around him. An autistic child may not do this, because he does not tend to recognize mothers' face as containing information that he needs. Also by age 9 months, most children seem to recognize their name as a special word that means them. If your child seems completely oblivious to his name, if it blends in with every other word that he hears, I'd be concerned about autism. Likewise, if your child doesn't seem to understand the word no, and I don't mean obey every time, but really not get what you're trying to say, that can be a sign of autism. As children get older the signs become more evident. Children who fail to learn to talk by 15 or 18 months of age and really have no words, are really at higher risk for autism. Children who seem to treat people around them more like objects than like human beings, you really have to look at. Your child's doctor should be doing regular developmental screening with every developmental wellness exam, and should be doing special screening at several exams, including the 12 month exam, the 15 month exam, the 24 month exam, and sometimes even more often. These screening have been shown to pickup autism early. And we do know that identifying it early helps treatment be more effective. So if you have any questions on how your child is communicating, how he's treating you or other people in his environment, don't hesitate to ask your doctor. Because with some pretty straight forward screening, your child can be identified and referred to people who can help. Talking about, how to identify signs of autism early, I'm Dr. David Hill.


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