We’ve all seen the touching photos of Halle Berry’s 3-year-old daughter Nahla caressing Halle’s face or exploring the handsome features of her father, Gabe Aubry. We all assumed that Nahla was just a very affectionate little girl.

But as a loyal reader pointed out in an email to Sandrarose.com earlier this week, Nahla might be an autistic or special needs child who communicates nonverbally with her hands.

The list of famous celebrities with autistic children includes Toni Braxton, Holly Robinson Peete, Sylvester Stalone, John Travolta, Jenny McCarthy, Dan Marino, Dawn Neufeld (‘Football Wives‘), and more.

Signs of autism begin in babies before they are 12 months old. Most children are diagnosed with autism by age 2 or 3. That’s the age when parents become aware that their toddlers’ communications skills aren’t keeping pace with other toddlers their age.

Autism is a disorder of the nerves in the brain that interferes with the signals sent from the brain to other parts of the body. The disorder is marked by poor communication skills and lack of social interaction. Doctors aren’t sure what causes autism.

Autistic children tend to play apart from other kids. They can spend a great deal of time performing repetitive motions like stacking and un-stacking or lining up objects such as in the photo below.

Other behavioral signs include walking on their tiptoes (toe walking), flapping their arms, sitting and spinning, rolling their heads and/or rocking back and forth.

Some autistic children show normal cognitive growth and development from birth until the age of 3 or 4 when they begin to regress, eventually losing their communications skills altogether. Other children who are diagnosed with autism as toddlers grow up to lead normal lives and show no outward signs of the disorder.

Below is a table that shows the early signs of autism in children. Children’s behavior patterns may differ from the chart below.

There is no cure for autism. Management and treatment for autism include behavioral, occupational and speech therapy, and other therapies including applied behaviour analysis (ABA), and structured teaching.

Medications may be prescribed to control the symptoms of autism such as antidepressants for anxiety or depression, and antipsychotic drugs to control aggressive behaviors.

This has been your Medical Minute.

More Info On The Web

Autism – Autism.com

Autism – Mayo Clinic


Any medical advice published on this blog is for your general information only and is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice. You should not take any action before consulting with your personal physician or a health care provider. Sandrarose.com and its affiliates cannot be held liable for any damages incurred by following advice found on this blog.

Photo of Quin: Copyright (c) 2003 by Nancy J Price (aka Mom)