From VOA Learning English, this is the Health Report in Special English.
Children with autism have difficulty with social skills and communication. They often behave in restricted and repetitive ways and have what seem like abnormally intense interests.
A widely used medical guide will list autism under a new definition and name, "autism spectrum disorder." The changes will appear in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, to be published in May.
The "spectrum" represents a group of developmental brain disorders, ranging from mild to severely disabling. A milder form commonly called Asperger's syndrome will no longer be listed as a separate disorder with its own name.
Autism is more common in boys than girls. What causes it is not clear. Scientists are studying genes and possible environmental influences.
Doctors usually cannot confirm a diagnosis of autism until a child is about three years old. Rebecca Landa is a researcher at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Maryland. Professor Landa wanted to find out what differences in development might be seen earlier. She led a new study that observed 235 babies between six and 36 months of age.
"At six months of age, the signs of some risk for developing communication and social delays, including autism, include motor delays. Like when you lay your baby on their back and you pull them by the arms gently into a seated position, the baby's head may nod back behind the shoulders, like poor head control. So that does not mean that the baby is going to have autism, but it does mean the baby needs to have some exercises to strengthen their body. And when they strengthen their body, they are better able to play with toys and engage with people, which then goes on to help them have better outcomes."
By the time a baby is one year old, signs of possible autism include difficulty in using words and not looking eye-to-eye or reaching out to other people. By 14 months, the baby might smile less and use language less. However, Professor Landa says these signs can be so small that they might be missed during a short health exam.
"It's important for parents to stay tuned in to their children's development, and if a parent is concerned about a child's development, for professionals to listen to them."
The earlier parents notice delays, she says, the sooner they can begin doing simple things that may help improve their child's development. For example: talking to the child about what they are doing, commenting when the child shows them something, and playing simple games that keep the child's attention.
1.autism n. [心理][内科] 孤独症；自我中心主义
She said it added to the understanding of autism.
2.spectrum n. 光谱；频谱；范围；余象
This can be terrible news for those at both ends of the age spectrum.
广泛使用的医疗指南将把孤独症列入新的定义和名称，即“自闭症谱系障碍” 。这一点将出现在今年五月出版的《精神疾病诊断和统计手册》第五版中 。
在孩子三岁之前，医生通常无法确证孤独症 。丽贝卡·蓝达是位于马里兰州的约翰霍普金斯大学医学院和肯尼迪克里格研究所的研究者，蓝达教授希望发育的早期差异，她发起的新研究观察了6到36个月的235名婴儿 。
“六个月时，会看到沟通和社交障碍的迹象，包括孤独症和多动障碍 。让婴儿平躺下，轻轻地拉着胳膊让他们坐起来，孩子的头可能会耷拉在背后，好像是头部控制有困难 。但这并不意味着孩子会患上孤独症，但意味着孩子需要强化练习来加强身体 。只要加强身体练习，孩子就能更好地玩玩具和与人交往，这就有利于更好的发育 。”
孩子一岁的时候，孤独症的可能迹象包括语言困难，无法与人对视或接触 。14个月时，孩子笑的少，说的少 。然而，蓝达教授说这些迹象很不明显，简单的健康检查可能无法检查到 。
她说，父母越早发现这些障碍，就能越早地做些简单的调整帮助孩子发育 。比如，和孩子聊聊他们在做什么，当孩子展示什么东西时作出评价，做些简单的游戏维持孩子的注意力 。