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Pediatricians' Group Issues New Autism Guidelines
Date:10/29/2007

  • Failure to make eye contact.
  • Delayed onset of babbling past 9 months of age.
  • No or few pre-speech gestures, such as waving or pointing.
  • Repetitive movements with objects.
  • Later, as speech develops and these disorders become more apparent, some important red flags are:

    • No single words by 16 months of age.
    • No babbling, pointing or other communicative gestures by 1 year of age.
    • A lack of two-word phrases by 2 years of age.
    • A loss of language skills at any age.

    The report recommends universal screening of all children for autism between 18 months and 24 months of age, even if parents haven't expressed any particular concerns.

    The second report focuses on what to do after autism has been diagnosed and stresses that early intervention is critical. The report recommends that intervention should begin as soon as autism is suspected, rather than waiting until the diagnosis is confirmed. Children with autism spectrum disorders should be involved in intervention therapies for at least 25 hours a week, all year long, according to the report.

    The report also suggests that pediatricians familiarize themselves with some of the complementary and alternative therapies that parents may use for their children. For example, some parents feel that when their child is on a casein/glutein-free diet that their symptoms improve. However, such a diet needs to be carefully planned, because nutritional deficiencies can develop. If a pediatrician is aware that the child is on such a diet, he or she can give the parent a referral to a nutritionist to ensure that the child is getting the right nutrients, the report said.

    "Pediatricians need to be aware of the alternatives and listen to parents who may want to go down those avenues, and they need to know where to send those families for additional help," said Dr.
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