Is It Possible For Some Children To Appear To Be Developing Normally, Then Begin To Show Problems Related To Autism?

Dr. Stefani Hines answers the question: 'Can Autism Appear Later in Childhood?'

Oct. 23, 2008 -- Question: Is it possible for some children to appear to be developing normally at first, and then begin to show problems related to autism/Asperger syndrome?

Answer: Twenty-five to 30 percent of children with autism will go through a phase of regression, what is called autistic regression. And the regression can take the form of a loss of words, words that they were previously saying, so loss of communication. A loss of gestures, so no longer waving or pointing. And a loss in terms of social interactions, so no longer responding to name or responding to praise, or decreased eye contact.

But regression is a hallmark of autistic spectrum disorder and a general practitioner or caregiver should be alert to that when it's noted. The typical age for regression in autism is anywhere between 15 to 24 months, with the average of 18 to 21 months and a lot of times occurring around 20 months.