Parental observation may be an inaccurate way to gauge the early signs of autism. For years, doctors have relied on moms and dads to provide them with information regarding dwindling social interaction in tots' first two years of life. But a new study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry may have doctors searching elsewhere for accurate reports.
California researchers have found that behavioral signs of autism – lack of smiling, eye contact, and vocalization – are not present at birth but begin to emerge at 6 months. At that point, rather than slowing development, as researchers previously thought, tots who went on to be diagnosed with autism actually began regressing. According to the study, parents did not observe such regressions. In fact, most later claimed that their wee ones exhibited the signs from birth. The researchers said:
[The] results suggest that behavioral signs of autism are not present at birth, as once suggested by Kanner, but emerge over time through a process of diminishment of key social communication behaviors. More children may present with a regressive course than previously thought, but parent report methods do not capture this phenomenon well.
How carefully do you note your child's social development milestones?