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Group alerts parents to signs of autism

All parents count fingers and toes. Now the country's leading pediatrician's group is advising you to be alert to behavioral clues that could suggest autism. When Sarah Wiseman was 10 months old her mother first noticed something was wrong. Nancy Wiseman said, "She wasn't responding to her name and the words weren't coming in." Later came the repetitive motions. They were signs of autism that doctors diagnosed in Sarah at 29 months. Wiseman said, "As devastating as it was, at least it was a hook I could hang my hat on. It was a diagnosis I could research and understand." Researchers say as many as one in every 150 American children has the developmental disorder. The American Academy of Pediatrics is pushing for all children to be screened for autism twice by age two. The group has released new screening recommendations that tells doctors to look for: lack of back and forth babbling, not turning when parent say a baby's name, smiling late and failure to make eye contact Having a roadmap on what to do and when to do it would make it easier for pediatricians to diagnose autism at an early age. Early diagnosis can't cure autism, but it can make profound difference. After Sarah spent a decade in therapy, Nancy Wiseman says her daughter is like any other preteen girl. Wiseman said, "At the age of two, she had no language, whereas now, at 11 and a half, she never stops talking. Not all children who show some of the symptoms are in fact autistic. But doctors say children who are suspected to be autistic should begin treatment, even before formal diagnosis.

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