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One in 110 kids in the U.S. has autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Autism is a developmental disability that occurs when the brain has trouble functioning properly. It affects a child's ability to speak, learn, and communicate with others. Doctors don't know exactly what causes it, but potential signs of autism can appear by 18 months.

Right now, there's no cure for autism, but it is treatable. Common treatments include speech and physical therapy, special diets, and treatments focused on improving relationships.

Studies show that early diagnosis and intervention services performed while a child's brain is still developing can significantly improve a child's ability to learn and communicate by the time they start kindergarten.

Potential Signs of Autism

  • Makes little or no eye contact.
  • Starts talking later than age 2, or loses previously acquired ability to say words or sentences.
  • Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm - may use a singsong voice or robot-like speech.
  • Difficulty relating to other people, prefers to be alone, and doesn't like to cuddle.
  • Doesn't play or has unusual play patterns like spinning objects over and over again.
  • Extreme behavior like too much laughing or crying for no reason, tantrums, and sensitivity to pain (or lack of it).

As a parent, you know your child better than anyone. If you notice anything about your child's behavior that doesn't seem right, you should have him or her checked by a health care provider.

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