Autism Symptoms

You can observe some Autism symptoms in a person as young as two years old and sometimes even younger. Here are the main Autism symptoms that will allow you to identify or wonder if your a member of your family, a friend or anyone else might be affected by this disorder. The severity of these Autism symptoms may vary as each individual is unique. That is why it is evaluated on a spectrum.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

early autism symptoms

Just before his first birthday, Marilyn Filley took her son, Damien, to buy some shoes. The gregarious toddler waved and smiled at everyone he saw.
"I was kind of embarrassed," Filley said. "I said, 'He thinks he's a celebrity.' "
A few months later, he stopped waving altogether.
Damien's other burgeoning efforts to communicate receded as well. He started avoiding eye contact. "Ma ma ma ma ma" was replaced by a string of incomprehensible noises. During a later trip to the mall, he appeared not to notice other shoppers and concentrated instead on twirling his wrists around.
The boy with blond curls who once danced to his dad's funky guitar riffs was drifting away.
"It didn't look like he was exploring his world anymore," Filley said.
An estimated 20 percent of autistic children follow the same regressive pattern as Damien, losing skills they'd acquired as seemingly normal babies. By contrast, children with early onset autism (the majority of cases) typically haven't made progress in key areas of development by age 1.
Experts have recognized autistic regression for at least a decade, but they've previously relied on parents' recollections of a child's backslide.
Now, a new study from the University of Washington documents regression using videotapes of children's behavior during their first and second birthday parties.
"We were pretty sure there was a phenomenon of regression, but this (study) documents it in a much more objective way," said Sally Ozonoff, an autism researcher at the MIND Institute at the University of California, Davis.
Researchers reviewed homemade videotapes and talked to the parents of 56 children, including 15 with regression, 21 with early onset and 20 children without autism.
On their first birthdays, the children later diagnosed with autism had reached the same developmental milestones as those never diagnosed. They babbled in long strings of sounds, used single words, pointed out objects and people and responded to their names.
By their second birthdays, the same children looked very different when compared to their peers without autism.
"We found that what parents have been telling us all along was true," said Geraldine Dawson, a psychologist and director of the University of Washington Autism Center. Dawson is the lead author of the study, which appears in this month's issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.
The study also found that children with regression had difficulty sleeping, eating and being soothed during their first year. Those symptoms could be precursors of autism, said Dawson.
In a surprising turn, children with autistic regression were actually using more complex babbling, words and pointing than children who were not later diagnosed with autism.
"That was an unexpected finding, and we don't know what to make of it," Dawson said.
It remains unclear if autistic regression is a biologically distinct form of autism.
And, like all types of disorders on the autism spectrum, no one knows yet what causes regression.
The study comes as parents, public health officials and physicians continue to debate whether thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in vaccines since the 1930s, contributed to the rapidly rising rates of autism seen in the past decade.
Between 1994 and 2003, the number of children with autism enrolled in special education programs nationwide increased from 22,664 to 141,022, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some trace the steep upturn to more children being diagnosed. But many parents believe their children were developing normally until receiving multiple vaccines as toddlers.
Pharmaceutical companies stopped producing most childhood vaccines with thimerosal in 2001.
A number of studies, including a report from the Institute of Medicine, have failed to find a link between autism and thimerosal.
The long-simmering controversy heated up this summer after an article written by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. appeared in the online magazine Salon and Rolling Stone magazine. Kennedy claimed that federal health officials attempted to conceal initial findings implicating thimerosal in the rising number of autism cases.
Last month, public health officials and scientists held a news conference to reinforce the importance of vaccinations and reiterated that there's no evidence of thimerosal causing autism.
Dawson declined to comment on the debate, pointing out that her study does not address the source of autism regression.
"Until we really understand what causes autism, I think we need to fully investigate all possibilities," Dawson said.
She added that if a genetic distinction between early and late onset autism is discovered, it could eventually help researchers pinpoint potential environmental triggers.
"That's still something we're trying to understand and sort out -- the degree to which genetics play a role and the environment interacts with genetics," Dawson said.
For Filley and her husband, Daniel Pitt, it seems Damien was snatched away before their eyes.
"We get a glimpse of our children's personality, and we get a glimpse of what could be, and then all of the sudden it's gone," said Pitt, a computer programmer for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The Seattle couple doesn't know for sure what happened to Damien. But they suspect vaccines and other environmental factors played a role.
"He wasn't locked in to this pattern of regression," Filley said.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Autism Symptoms

From WebMD

Home videos of children's birthday parties may validate what many parents of autistic children have suspected in retrospect: Children who seemed normal in their first year of life may regress and develop symptoms of autism by their second birthday.
A new study analyzed home videos of first- and second-year birthday parties and showed that some autistic children began displaying symptoms of the disorder by their first birthday, such as less frequent use of words or babbling.
Meanwhile, other autistic children who behaved normally at age 1 appeared to regress and showed typical symptoms of autism by age 2.
Researchers say it's the first objective evidence of autistic regression, a form of autism that accounts for about 25% of all autism cases in the U.S.
"Once again, this study provides an important lesson that parents are good reporters on what is happening with their children," says researcher Geraldine Dawson, PhD, director of the University of Washington's Autism Center, in a news release. "And it certainly suggests that in early screening for autism that we need to screen at 18, 24, and 36 months to find children who develop normally at first, but then experience a regression."
The study did not look at the cause of the autistic regression, nor any possible links to childhood vaccines. The timing of childhood vaccinations and the emergence of autism symptoms in early childhood has prompted some to suggest that the two may be related, but scientific research has largely rejected this theory.
Home Videos Document Autistic Regression
In the study, researchers analyzed first and second birthday party home videos provided by the parents of 36 young children with autism and 20 normally developing children. Of the autistic children, 15 were diagnosed with autism after the parents reported a worsening of social and/or communication skills during the second year of life. The parents of 21 of the children with autism reported that they had impairments before age 1, known as early-onset autism.
Researchers noted the frequency and duration of several behaviors seen in the videotapes, such as language, looking at other people, repetitive behavior, emotion, and playing with toys. They were unaware of the diagnosis that the children had.
They also interviewed the caregiver about the child's early development.
Their results appear in the August issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.
By the children's second birthday, both groups of autistic children vocalized and used words less frequently, pointed less often, looked at people less often, and didn't respond when their name was called more often than the normally developing children.
Children whose parents reported autistic regression used more complex babble and words at their first birthday than normal children, while children with early-onset autism used the fewest words and least amount of babble.
In addition, children with the early-onset form of autism pointed less at their first birthday and showed more communication impediments than the other two groups at this age.
Researchers say the results of this study show that at least some children don't develop the typical symptoms of autism by the end of their first year of life, and these symptoms may emerge in the following year.
They say that by ages 3 and 4, there were no differences in the severity of autism between the two groups of autistic children in this study. But more research is needed on whether autistic regression is different than other forms of the autism.