Regression Can Be Real Or Apparent
Over the past few years, there have been some debates as to whether regression, in which there is a loss of acquired communication or social skills, is a real phenomenon or an apparent one. Some have wondered whether parent reports were exaggerated.
Video records, however, combined with studies, make it clear that at least some children do in fact regress into autism while others either show signs of autism in infancy or “plateau” in their development.
A relatively new set of studies looking at the younger siblings of children with autism in their earliest months are discovering that subtle regression is quite common. While parents may notice issues such as loss of language or eye contact, researchers are noticing small losses in the areas of motor skills and response to social cues.
Such regression typically occurs before age 3. According to researcher Lonnie Zwaigenbaum, “upwards of 20% to 30% recall a period when their children lost social and communication skills in the second year of life.”
At present, no one knows exactly what causes regression, but according to developmental-behavioral pediatrician Paul Wang, We understand now that regression is common. It starts early, and it can affect many different developmental skills.”
Signs Of Nonverbal Communication Difficulties
- Avoids eye contact.
- Uses facial expressions that dont match what they are saying
- Doesnt pick up on other peoples facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures.
- Makes very few gestures . May come across as cold or robot-like.
- Reacts unusually to sights, smells, textures, and sounds. May be especially sensitive to loud noises. Can also be unresponsive to people entering/leaving, as well as efforts by others to attract the childs attention.
- Atypical posture, clumsiness, or eccentric ways of moving .
Children with autism spectrum disorder have trouble picking up on subtle nonverbal cues and using body language. This makes the give-and-take of social interaction very difficult.
What To Do If Youre Worried
If your child is developmentally delayed, or if youve observed other red flags for autism, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician right away. In fact, its a good idea to have your child screened by a doctor even if he or she is hitting the developmental milestones on schedule. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children receive routine developmental screenings, as well as specific screenings for autism at 9, 18, and 30 months of age.
Schedule an autism screening. A number of specialized screening tools have been developed to identify children at risk for autism. Most of these screening tools are quick and straightforward, consisting of yes-or-no questions or a checklist of symptoms. Your pediatrician should also get your feedback regarding your childs behavior.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Autism In Babies And Toddlers
If autism is caught in infancy, treatment can take full advantage of the young brains remarkable plasticity. Although autism is hard to diagnose before 24 months, symptoms often surface between 12 and 18 months. If signs are detected by 18 months of age, intensive treatment may help to rewire the brain and reverse the symptoms.
The earliest signs of autism involve the absence of typical behaviorsnot the presence of atypical onesso they can be tough to spot. In some cases, the earliest symptoms of autism are even misinterpreted as signs of a good baby, since the infant may seem quiet, independent, and undemanding. However, you can catch warning signs early if you know what to look for.
Some autistic infants dont respond to cuddling, reach out to be picked up, or look at their mothers when being fed.
How Can I Find Out What Caused My Childs Autism
There is no known cause of autism spectrum disorder , so there is no way of determining the specific cause of your childs autism. In fact, the generally accepted view is that there is no one specific cause of ASD. Rather, theres a combination of factors that can increase a childs risk.
Genetics and environment are two factors considered to affect the likelihood of a child developing ASD. Genetics may play a strong role, with the risk of a child having a pervasive developmental disorder increasing by 2% 20% if an older sibling has an autism impairment.
Possible environmental causes often involve the childs developing conditions in the womb. For example, the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences citesadvanced parental age at time of conception, and prenatal exposure to air pollution or certain pesticides, as two possible risk factors. However, research suggests that environmental factors play a marginal role in whether or not a child will develop autism. Experts instead point to genetics and continue to research exactly which genes mutate and lead to autism.
No matter the potential cause, parents and caregivers must focus on the childs future rather than their past. Available evidence shows that autism tends to develop at an early age, meaning that a child born without autism is unlikely to acquire it when they are older.
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Talk About The Childs Interests
Narrow or extreme interest in specific topics is a core autism symptom. Children can be fascinated by almost anything, including maps, numbers, recipes, geography, and more.
For children with autism, talking about these topics brings comfort. They enjoy sharing knowledge, and they can talk endlessly about the subject without asking for your feedback.
Bond with the child by listening to the topic. Ask questions if you can. Avoid changing the subject. Just let the child talk until you know one another better.
Talking About Your Child With Autism
Just a kid.
Say hi. Dont just ignore a child with autism, even if they are nonverbal, or dont reciprocate. It may take many more times before they learn to reciprocate. Using social greetings appropriately and at the right time is a skill set, and it may take them longer to gain those skills. Try not to give up too soon.
Talk to them. It may be more difficult to process information, and short and simple phrasing may be better, but continue to make the effort to talk to a child with autism so that they hear and see language in action.
Talk with your hands. Some children who struggle with verbal communication use formal sign language to bridge the gap while they are learning to talk. But beyond that, and for all individuals with and without autism, visual supports and gestures can be used help to clarify verbal information. We all use our hands to gesture when we give directions or describe something, to support our words, and these additional visual cues can help.
Use correct grammar. A child with autism who struggles with language still benefits from hearing many models of correct grammar and language sequencing. In fact, some may demonstrate relative strengths in imitation of your phrases and sentences, and so it is best if they are simple but intact grammatical utterances.
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The Children Who Leave Autism Behind
Autism is usually thought to be a lifelong condition, but a small number of children lose the core symptoms and shed the diagnosis. Some researchers are beginning to explore how common this may be, and why some children outgrow autism.
Alex, aged 10, bounds onto his bed to pose with his Aaron Rodgers poster, grinning as proudly as if he had recruited the Green Bay Packers quarterback himself. Continuing the tour of his suburban New York bedroom, he points out his Packers-themed alarm clock, his soccer trophy, his Boy Scout trophy and then the big reveal: a homemade foam box in Packers green and gold.
Mmm, very nice, I say. Alex grins part shy, part sly as he turns it around to show me the message on the back: Jets stink.
Even though he seems to be an entirely ordinary boy, theres something unusual about Alex: He once had autism, and now he does not. There was a time when Alexs parents didnt know if he would ever speak in full sentences, let alone joke around with a stranger. His autism, they suspected, might prevent any such future.
Alexs parents began to worry about him before he was even 1 year old. He wasnt learning to sit, crawl or stand as his fraternal twin brother was. Even more striking was how much less social he was compared with his brother.
What Are The Signs Of Autism
Symptoms of autism usually appear before a child turns 3. Some people show signs from birth.
- A lack of eye contact
- A narrow range of interests or intense interest in certain topics
- Doing something over and over, like repeating words or phrases, rocking back and forth, or flipping a lever
- High sensitivity to sounds, touches, smells, or sights that seem ordinary to other people
- Not looking at or listening to other people
- Not looking at things when another person points at them
- Not wanting to be held or cuddled
- Problems understanding or using speech, gestures, facial expressions, or tone of voice
- Talking in a sing-song, flat, or robotic voice
- Trouble adapting to changes in routine
Some children with autism may also have seizures. These might not start until adolescence.
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What If My Friend Has Autism Spectrum Disorder
Some people with ASD do not feel that they have a disorder and don’t want to change. They’re proud of who they are and they want to be accepted, even though they may have different strengths and weaknesses than most other people.
All people deserve respect. But kids with ASD may be teased, bullied, or left out because they’re different. Bullying and teasing are never the right way to treat other people, but it may be hard to be a friend with someone who has ASD.
Kids with ASD often don’t understand playful jokes. You may need to be very clear when you communicate with someone who has ASD.
Try to be patient and kind. Remember how hard it might be for the person with ASD to understand how to be a friend. Stand up for classmates who are bullied. Tell adults, so they can help protect kids who are bullied.
What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. The term spectrum refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment that people with ASD can have.
ASD affects people in different ways and can range from mild to severe. People with ASD share some symptoms, such as difficulties with social interaction, but there are differences in when the symptoms start, how severe they are, the number of symptoms, and whether other problems are present. The symptoms and their severity can change over time.
The behavioral signs of ASD often appear early in development. Many children show symptoms by 12 months to 18 months of age or earlier.
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Signs Of Social Difficulties
- Appears disinterested or unaware of other people or whats going on around them.
- Doesnt know how to connect with others, play, or make friends.
- Prefers not to be touched, held, or cuddled.
- Doesnt play pretend games, engage in group games, imitate others, or use toys in creative ways.
- Has trouble understanding feelings or talking about them.
- Doesnt seem to hear when others talk to them.
- Doesnt share interests or achievements with others .
Basic social interaction can be difficult for children with autism spectrum disorder. Many kids on the autism spectrum seem to prefer to live in their own world, aloof and detached from others.
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There are lots of frightening rumors about what causes autism, a mysterious brain disorder, in children. We asked leading experts across the country to get you answers.
Nancy Wiseman had a feeling early on that something wasn’t quite right with her daughter. When Sarah was 6 months old, she stopped babbling, and by 10 months, she was silent. By 18 months, the increasingly aloof toddler no longer responded to her name, and she resisted being held, kissed, or touched. “I felt that I was losing my child a little more each day,” says Wiseman, of Merrimac, Massachusetts. When Sarah wasn’t saying any words or even making sounds that resembled words by 20 months, her grandmother, a school psychologist, suspected that the girl might actually be deaf. Instead, Wiseman was devastated to learn that her daughter had autism. “The diagnosis really knocked the wind out of me,” she recalls, “but I was relieved to finally know what was wrong.”
There are many unanswered questions,” says Alice Kau, Ph.D., an autism expert at the National Institutes of Health, which funded more than $74 million in autism research in 2002, as compared with only $22 million in 1997. Still, researchers are beginning to make progress in unraveling this baffling disorder, and the number of resources available for families is increasing. Here, six facts about autism that every parent should know.
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How Are The Speech And Language Problems Of Asd Treated
If a doctor suspects a child has ASD or another developmental disability, he or she usually will refer the child to a variety of specialists, including a speech-language pathologist. This is a health professional trained to treat individuals with voice, speech, and language disorders. The speech-language pathologist will perform a comprehensive evaluation of the childs ability to communicate, and will design an appropriate treatment program. In addition, the speech-language pathologist might make a referral for a hearing test to make sure the childs hearing is normal.
Teaching children with ASD to improve their communication skills is essential for helping them reach their full potential. There are many different approaches, but the best treatment program begins early, during the preschool years, and is tailored to the childs age and interests. It should address both the childs behavior and communication skills and offer regular reinforcement of positive actions. Most children with ASD respond well to highly structured, specialized programs. Parents or primary caregivers, as well as other family members, should be involved in the treatment program so that it becomes part of the childs daily life.
How Does Autism Affect Communication
About 40% of kids with autism spectrum disorders donât talk at all, and between 25% and 30% develop some language skills during infancy but then lose them later. Some children with ASD start talking later in life.
Most have some problems with communication, including:
- Delayed speech and language skills
- Flat, robotic speaking voice, or singsong voice
- Problems with pronouns
- Not using or rarely using common gestures , and not responding to them
- Inability to stay on topic when talking or answering questions
- Not recognizing sarcasm or joking
- Trouble expressing needs and emotions
- Not getting signals from body language, tone of voice, and expressions
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Why Is Autism Awareness Important
April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day. April has also become known as Autism Awareness Month in the United States. However, many community advocates have rightly called for the need to increase awareness about ASD year-round, not just during 30 select days.
The Autism Society of America and other advocates have even proposed that April be designated Autism Acceptance Month instead.
Autism acceptance requires empathy and an understanding that ASD is different for everyone.
Certain therapies and approaches can work for some people but not others. Parents and caregivers can also have differing opinions on the best way to advocate for an autistic child.
Dont Take Things Personally
Children with autism may not respond in a manner you understand or expect. They may walk away from you, ignore you, or have a meltdown.
Its easy to have hurt feelings, but do your best to keep your emotions in check. The child may be working hard to adjust to your expectations and your reality. Be as flexible as you can, and keep trying to form that connection.
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Dont Use Creative Language
Autistic children take things literally. If you sprinkle your conversation with irony, sarcasm, exaggerations, or idioms, youre bound to confuse the child.
For example, dont tell a child to keep an eye on something. The child may reach for it and put the item near his face.
Be as literal and direct as you can, so the child knows exactly what youre talking about.
If you slip and say something unusual, dont laugh at the child for taking your words literally. Apologize for your mistake, and rephrase the sentence so your meaning is clear.
Growing Numbers Of Teens With Asd
Chantal Sicile-Kira says nobody told her what to expect when her son with autism, now 24, became a teenager. Jeremy Sicile-Kira was born when autism was considered to be relatively rare just before the tide of diagnoses began rising in the 1990s. “Nobody ever told us anything about adolescence and autism,” she said.
Today, many more parents have children with autism entering or already in their teens.1 Ms. Sicile-Kira tries to educate them through her books, speeches and seminars on autism spectrum disorders .
One common complaint she hears from parents: their teens’ autism is getting worse. But that may be a misunderstanding, she said.
“The teens are not getting more noncompliant because their autism is getting worse. It’s because they’re teenagers,” said Ms. Sicile-Kira, author of Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum. Like all teens, they may want more independence. Parents can help: “If your child needs schedules, for example, give him more control over his schedule. That gives him a way to be ‘noncompliant'” to have his own way sometimes.
Research into autism in the teen years and beyond is still in its infancy: “very little is known about the course of ASD through adolescence and into young adulthood,” one study said.1
Autism is a broad spectrum, and adolescence will affect each child differently. If recent studies are an indication, parents generally can expect some of the following along their child’s road to adulthood:
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