Autism Doctor Answers Viewers' Questions

Neurologist Dr. Fernando Miranda takes a radically different approach to behavioral disorders. Using high-tech scanning imagery he looks inside people's brains to diagnose and treat autism and attention deficit disorder.

After discussing his groundbreaking research on "Good Morning America," we asked viewers to send in their questions for Miranda and received hundreds of emails. Answers to selected questions are below.

Viewers can also visit Bright Minds Institute for more information.

What are the signs one should look for in a child (who has been diagnosed with autism) to see if it could be something else like seizures? And can it be hereditary?
E., Whittier, Calif.

Dr. Miranda: Day dreaming, staring spells, abnormal awakenings at night, sleep terrors and family history of seizures.

I have a 5-year-old son with autism who had a 30 minute EEG when he was 4. We suspected silent seizures but in the 30 minutes none were noted. Is this enough time? Should we pursue more extensive testing? If so, what testing would you recommend?
A.M., Little Rock, Ark.

Dr. Miranda: Yes, you should. Please have a long recording or a 24 hour one.

My son was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old. He's 14 now and is having a lot of behavior problems due to his extreme anxieties. Is it too late to give him an MRI to see if he may be having seizures that are undetected?
B.J., Venice, Calif.

Dr. Miranda: No, although is better to have children worked up while very young, the brain continues to adapt through life. If he has seizures, then treatment ought to be considered.

My sister has fraternal twins that were recently diagnosed with mild autism. Additional testing was done on their hearing and it was found that both kids are supposedly hearing impaired. Could it be the hearing problem that gives the same observations as autism?
R.H., Mount Laurel, N.J.

Dr. Miranda: Very much so.

"My son Ben just turned 5 years old on May 10 -- each year putting me into a deeper depression that my son is still non-verbal. I just recently got our pediatrician to refer us to a pediatric neurologist ... What information should I bring up to the neurologist? What should I push for? What should I ask them to do to make sure I get a clear diagnosis and help find answers to why my child is not talking. He was diagnosed at 3 years old with PDD/autism, but there has to be more."
J.V.; La Porte, IN

Dr. Miranda: The best information that you can bring to your pediatric neurologist should be some of the same information that you have just provided us in this e-mail, paying special attention to the onset and duration of symptoms that you would consider unusual. You should push for the pediatric neurologist to order an MRI scan of the brain, and an EEG. These should be standard tests to request when searching for an accurate determination of what may be ailing your child. Results from these tests should provide a clearer indication of what course to take to help.

"My 15-year-old son has Aspergers Syndrome and I was wondering if this type of brain scan would help to verify this diagnosis, and if it isn't really Aspergers ... It is getting harder to deal with my son as he gets older. Thank you very much."
C.T.; Manchester, NH

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