Autism fears growing among parents

July 20, 2008 at 4:22 PM
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NEWARK, N.J., July 20 (UPI) -- U.S. parents such as Sandra Devlin of Denville, N.J., say they are becoming increasingly concerned about their children being diagnosed with autism.

The mother-of-four says while she was never concerned with autism when her eldest children were young, she has grown fearful of the developmental disorder while watching her two youngest age, The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger reported Sunday.

Devlin says she now checks her youngest children's eye contact on a regular basis for any sign of the brain disorder.

"I never did that with my older kids," she said. "But now I'm looking specifically for autism."

American Academy of Pediatrics spokeswoman Ari Brown warns such protective parenting can sometimes go awry when it comes to autism.

"Now you hear, 'Oh my God, my child lines up his trains. Does he have autism?'" she said. "There are these extreme parents who think every little thing is autism. I have to say to them, 'Sometimes kids can be quirky.'"

The Star-Ledger said symptoms of autism disorders include repetitive actions, communication problems and impaired social interaction. The medical condition can leave a child gifted or can cause them to be severely mentally challenged.

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