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Web Site Aims to Help Parents Notice Early Signs of Autism
What is so strange about a baby fascinated with spinning a cup, or a toddler flapping his hands, or a preschooler walking on her toes?
Parents and even doctors at times miss these red flags for autism, but a new online video "glossary" makes them startlingly clear.
Dozens of video clips contrast the behavior of autistic kids with that of unaffected children. Some of the side-by-side differences can make you gasps. Others are more subtle.
The free Web site, debuting also defines and depicts "stimming," echolalia and other confusing-sounding terms that explain autistic behavior. Stimming refers to repetitive, self-stimulating or soothing behavior, as well as hand flapping and rocking, that autistic children sometimes do in reaction to light, sounds or excitement. Echolalia is echoing or repeating someone else's words or phrases, sometimes out of context.
The nonprofit advocacy groups Autism Speaks and First Signs sponsor the Web site. They hope the site, http://www. autism speaks. Org/video/glossary.php, will promote early diagnosis and treatment, which can help children with autism lead lives that are more normal.
Michael Wasserman, a New Orleans pediatrician, cautioned that the site may lead some parents to needlessly fret about normal behavior variations.
However, Amy Wetherby, a Florida State University professor who helped create the site, noted that it "will help give those terms to take to the doctor and say, 'I'm worried about it.