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More About Autism

EARLY SIGNS

Symptoms begin before age 3 and last for life, though they may improve over time. Warning signs include:

Not responding to his or her name by 12 months

Not pointing at objects to show interest by 14 months; not playing pretend games by 18 months

Avoiding eye contact, wanting to be alone

Trouble understanding others' feelings or talking about his or her own feelings

Delayed speech and language skills

Getting upset with minor changes

Obsessive interests

Flapping his or her hands, rocking of the body or spinning in circles

Unusual reactions to sound, smell, taste or other sensations

TREATMENT

An intensive treatment involving the child's family and a team of professionals. A standard therapy is applied behavioral analysis, or repeated use of positive reinforcement to teach communication, social skills, self care and living skills. The child may require training 25 to 40 hours a week and is best started before age 4.

STATISTICS

Two new government studies have found that autism occurs in about one in 100 children in the United States, or as high as 1 in 91 children. According to that rate, about 1,600 children ages 17 and under have autism in Stanislaus County.

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