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How to Use Statistics on Autism in ToddlersSkip

A typical toddler is a social being who loves to chatter and interact with others. Sadly, some tots aren’t capable of normal communication. Autism — also known as autistic spectrum disorder or ASD — is a complicated developmental disorder that can first become evident in toddlers. A toddler should be screened for autism between 18 and 24 months, recommends Healthy Children.org, a website published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Significance

An autism diagnosis typically occurs in kids ages 3 to 6, notes the Autism Society. A mom with a tot age 2 or younger may discover during routine screening that her little one meets the criteria for the disorder, which can include misuse of objects or toys. For example, instead of playing with a doll or teddy bear, your autistic child may treat them like a ball and throw them across the room or down stairs. Limited range of sounds, words and gestures are often signs of autism. An estimated one in 88 U.S. children, including toddlers, have an ASD, according to figures provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Expert Insight

You’re not alone if your tyke has autism. About 50 percent of all cases of ASDs may be detectable during the toddler years, according to WebMD. The conclusion is based on a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Researchers found early signs of autism were noticeable in tots as young as 14 months and were officially diagnosed by age 3. The young subject’s social, communication and play behaviors were evaluated periodically from 14 to 36 months of age. More than 100 children considered at high risk for ASD because they had a sibling with autism and 18 toddlers with no family history of the disorder took part in the study.

Prevalence

Autism in toddlers is more prevalent than once believed, according to a 2012 Swedish study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. The population study in Gothenburg found 0.80 percent of 2 year olds suspected of having ASD were diagnosed with the condition in 2010. In 2000 and 2005, the figures were only 0.18 percent and 0.04 percent. Population screenings did not occur in those years. The findings suggest that early screening contributes to a substantial increase in ASD cases.

Associated Problems

A toddler with autism unfortunately runs the risk of a host of medical problems, explains the Autism Society. Up to 39 percent of children with autism develop seizures, which can occur at an extremely young age or during puberty when hormonal changes may set them off. An estimated 75 percent of autistic children deal with gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain. Some 30 percent of kids with autism have moderate to severe pica. Pica refers to eating sand, paper, paint and other non-food items that can lead to choking, parasitic infections and other illnesses. Loss of muscle tone occurs in about 30 percent of autistic kids. Poor muscle tone can impair a toddler’s gross and fine motor abilities, such as running and drawing.

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