Dr. Rachel: 5 signs your child might have autism

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NEW ORLEANS -- What comes to your mind when you hear the word autism?

Autism is not one specific behavior. It is a spectrum of a set of certain behaviors that affects people differently and to varying degrees, which affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others.

Some children show signs early in life. In others, symptoms may not appear until 24 months or later. Some children will develop normally until 18 or 24 months then stop gaining new skills or begin to lose certain skills.

Here are some signs to look for in children:

1. They don't have a social smile by 6 months
2. They don't babble by 12 months
3. They show little...or no eye contact
4. They don't say a single word by 16 months
5. And they show a lack of interest in play or their environment

It is important to make the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder early because early diagnosis and intervention leads to significantly improved outcomes.

The CDC has a great app on its website to help you track your child's developmental milestones from birth to age 5. Check it out here.

If you have any medical questions, email them to drrachel@wgno.com.

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