Children with autism have problems with social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and often exhibit unusual behaviors. Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than are girls.
NYPBMH urges parents to bring any concerns, especially with language development, to their child's general pediatrician or to a developmental pediatrician, who is a board-certified specialist who diagnoses and treats autism and related disorders. The sooner treatment begins, the better the chance a child has of reaching his or her full potential.
Early signs of autism include failure to respond to name, inability to point, show objects, use gestures or engage with others; inability to use a toy as intended: and the inability to babble, or use words, particularly after 12 months of age.
Some children may develop normally but then lose these milestones, usually around 15 to 21 months of age. A child is diagnosed with autism based on clinical observation and the results of several screening tests.
If the child is less than three years old, he or she is referred to an early intervention program; older children receive services through the Department of Education. The cause of autism is unknown (genetics and environmental factors may play a role), but numerous studies have shown that there is no link between childhood vaccinations and autism.