Routine Autism Screening Recommended
Report Highlights Subtle Autism Signs to Look for During Wellness Visits With Doctor
WebMD News Archive
Not-So-Subtle Autism Signs
The mostly verbal red flags that have previously been identified as absolute
indicators for evaluation are:
- No babbling, pointing, or other communication gestures by 12 months of
- No single words by age 16 months
- No two-word spontaneous phrases by 24 months
- Loss of language or social skills at any age
Neurodevelopmental pediatrician Scott Myers, MD, tells WebMD that roughly a
quarter of children with autism experience verbal regression. The average age
that this occurs is about 21 months, he says.
"There is certainly cause for concern if a child that was using 20 words
a few months ago suddenly doesn't have any language," he says.
Early Treatment Is Critical
The report on the management of autism and related disorders calls for
intervention as early as possible, even before a definite diagnosis has been
Treatment should include at least 25 hours a week of intensive behavioral
therapy with a low student-to-teacher ratio, parental involvement, and
sufficient one-on-one time.
The report also calls on pediatricians to learn about the many alternative
treatments being embraced by parents, so that they can discuss these options in
an informed manner.
These include vitamin and mineral treatments, chelation therapy, and
restricted diets, such as the wheat- and dairy-free diet that actress Jenny
McCarthy is promoting in a new book about her son's autism.
"Pediatricians need to keep the lines of communication open and take an
active role in helping to educate families about evaluating evidence,"
He tells WebMD that there has not been enough research done to prove or
disprove the value of most alternative treatments.
The exceptions, he says, are treatments involving the digestive hormone
secretin and the interactive therapy known as facilitated communication.
Myers says both of these interventions have been well studied and neither
has been shown to be effective for the treatment of autism.