More than the Terrible 2s

    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.

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    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.

    More info:
    (Gerry Stefanatos’ writes about RASD in the December issue of the journal Neuropsychology Review.)

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