Researcher says certain developmental delays should prompt parents to seek out medical advice.
A Temple University researcher says some of the hallmark symptoms of one kind of autism overlap with a very normal, but frustrating, stage of child development.
Many parents know the signs of the Terrible Twos when tantrums and defiance seem to rule. That kind of misbehavior is typical between a child’s 1st and 2nd birthdays, according to neuropsychologist Gerry Stefanatos, but he says certain social or language setbacks can signal a serious problem.
Stefanatos: If they fail to acknowledge that their name is being called. If children cease to acknowledge the presence of parents or siblings who would normally engender a visual response.
Researchers are trying to better understand the wide-ranging communication and behavior disorders that fall under the umbrella of autism. One condition — regressive autistic spectrum disorder — is marked by seemingly normal development early on. Then around ages 18 to 24 months children with RASD begin to have setbacks.
Stefanatos: So children who were using five to 10 or 20 words and then lose the ability to express those words over a period of weeks or months, that would be a cause for concern.
He says those kinds of developmental losses should prompt parents to ask for a medical evaluation.
(Gerry Stefanatos’ writes about RASD in the December issue of the journal Neuropsychology Review.)