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Is My Baby Autistic? Unusual Use Of Toys May Be a Clue

Amongst children diagnosed with autism, around a third of their parents notice signs of autism before the child’s first birthday. But the condition usually goes undiagnosed for many years: the average age of diagnosis is over three.

Autistic children are widely believed to be born with the condition. Although various factors have been proposed that could give a child autism, most prominently the vaccine-autism controversy, most medical professionals believe that autism is something present at birth.

The earlier a child is diagnosed, the more effective treatment and therapy can be for the child, with an improvement in quality of life for the child and their family. So tests to diagnose the condition earlier could be very valuable.

Two classic symptoms of autism is repetitive behaviors, and intense interest in very specific things. Researchers studied a group of infants at high risk for autism and found that children later diagnosed with autism played with their toys in different ways. The children were more likely to repeatedly spin or rotate toys. They were also more likely to observe objects in unusual ways, like staring sideways at them, or watching them intently for long periods. Almost every child who was later diagnosed with autism exhibited these behaviors before their first birthday. The repetitive spinning and intense observations were rare in children not diagnosed with autism.

Infants and toddlers are known for repetitive behaviors. It’s normal for babies to try, try, and try again until they acquire a skill. Stacking and arranging objects is very common as babies learn motor skills and begin to realize that they can control their environment, and their determination to master the task is usually impressive. When combined with less focused tasks, and interest in many other things, It’s part of healthy infant development.

But as a parent, if you feel that there’s something not-quite-right, talk with your child’s pediatrician.


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