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Autism

Is My Child Autistic?

12/01/2008

Question:

I think my daughter might be autistic.  First of all, she appears in her own world and finds it hard to react to things going on around.  For instance, she has difficulty responding to someone waving at her. At the mall or anywhere crowded, she gets really disorientated and unhappy. She can talk normally but stutters sometimes. When she was younger, she liked to line her cars up on the mat rather than play with them. She  appears in her own world and doesn’t know how to react to others. It seems more than Asperger syndrome to me but I was wondering the characterization of the entire spectrum.  Can autism be detected on a brain scan? Also, someone might give her a look or wave but she can’t react appropriately. She gets really odd looks sometimes because people don’t realize there might be something wrong with her.  Also, her dad has schizophrenia.  Thanks.

Answer:

Thanks for your question. The description you give for your child is indeed confusing. When you describe her language as quite normal, it suggests this is not autism. When you describe these episodes of being in her own world, and being disoriented as to how to respond to others sometimes, it is less clear.

You don't mention her age, how she is doing with other children her age, or how she is performing academically in her pre-school or school program. All of these are important factors in assessing her.

The majority of pediatricians are well acquainted with the autism spectrum disorders and my recommendation is to discuss this thoroughly with your child's pediatrician first. She or he can best decide whether additional evaluation is needed.

Regarding your other questions, at this time autism cannot be detected on a brain scan so that is of little help. Her father's diagnosis of schizophrenia is of interest, but again, at this time there is no clear relationship that would help confirm her diagnosis.

Take care.

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Response by:

Daniel   Coury, MD Daniel Coury, MD
Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University