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Autism/Can my 10 year old son develop Autism now?


Dear Dr.,

As a baby and toddler my son did not show any signs of Autism.  However, I see things in his behavior that trouble me. He is incredibly intelligent.  He gets high marks in school & he makes friends easily.  That's one of the reasons that I didn't think that he had Autism, but there are certain behavior issues we have at home that have me worrying.

He's always been funny about food, just like a lot of kids.  He wouldn't try certain things, and if you forced him to he would make himself gag, to the point where he would about throw up.  All of this from taking a small kernel of corn in his mouth to taste.  Last night I cooked (really microwave) a couple of frozen burritos, at his request.  Let me preface this with the fact that is something he has eaten many times in the past with no problems whatsoever.  As I handed him his plate he saw a small amount of grease that dripped out of the burrito & he started obsessing about how gross that was.  So I tried to whip off the grease from the plate.  He then became upset that his fork & knife touched the grease then touched his burrito.  I could do nothing to fix it enough for him to eat his dinner.  I became frustrated & angry, which in turn made him upset & cried.  He has NEVER done this before.  I was shocked.  

My brother works for Easter Seals & he mentioned that he thought my son could have a small case of Autism, if there is such a thing.  I don't know what to think.  Can a healthy "normal" ten year old boy develop Autism out of the blue?  I don't know at what age he wouldn't be at risk.  Is there an age that we don't have to worry anymore?  Or do we have to look for signs all through their lives?

I would appreciate any help.  He is my only child, and I have always worried about his health & safety.  Thank you for any answers you can give me.


No Rachel, a 10 year old will not suddenly develop autism at age 10 when he showed no signs previously. It seems unlikely that you, your family and your son's school would have overlooked autism symptoms for a decade. And it is rare for a child with autism to be described as making friends easily.

Although kids with autism may have aversions to food textures, etc., autistic kids are not the only ones who experience such issues. Non-autistic kids have sensory difficulties as well. Based on what you said, I wonder about other things. Does not son seem anxious? Worried? Does he have other obsessional issues, getting fixated on an idea, insisting things be done a certain way or things like that?

Has anything major changed in his life recently such as a move, losing someone, or something that altered his world? That could notchup his anxiety and make any obsessions/avoidances worse.

If this was an isolated incident, I don't think I would worry about it too much. But, if it persists or grows to encompass other areas, I'd recommend seeking help. If you feel the difficulty centers around sensory issues, then an Occupational Therapist might be helpful. If you feel that the concern is more about obsessing or about anxiety, then a psychologist or psychiatrist might be who you should seek.

Best wishes,


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Dr. Sharon A. Mitchell


Sharon can help with parenting and educational concerns. She has worked in teaching, special education, counseling and consulting for over thirty years and gives workshops to educators and parents on working with kids with autism spectrum disorders. Sharon speaks from both the education and parent points of view, having an adult son with Asperger's.


Sharon has spent decades as a special education consultant with a school district and autism consult for the province's Department of Education, giving workshops and individual consults. Currently she works as regional autism consultant for a health district in between teaching university classes. She is an Amazon bestselling author or a series of novels, each depicting a child who has an autism spectrum disorder. Sharon's Master's thesis looked at the long-term outlook for persons with high functioning autism and Asperger's. Her Doctorate focused on strategies to help those with autism spectrum disorders.

Website at and sits on Autism Today's Panel of Experts (

Author of "Autism Goes to School" - a novel about autism that that became an Amazon bestseller. Get this Amazon bestseller free at In the next book, Autism Runs Away, Ethan is only in grade one and already has been kicked out of one school due to his tantrums and pattern of running away when in a panic. Now in a new school his mom remains glued to her phone, waiting for the call to tell her that they don’t know what to do with a child who has autism. Sara is about to learn if this new school is up to the challenge. ( Autism Belongs is the 3rd book. Manny's life has shrank to the confines of their house. His parents are desperate not to rock his world because the aggression has gotten to much worse. Where will this lead? Is there a chance that Manny could actually belong out in the world? You bet! Get a free sample at Book four, Autism Talks and Talks, is about a 12 year old girl who has Asperger's. She's bright, inquisitive, highly verbal, but lacks social skills. Try a free sample at Book five, Autism Grows Up features Suzie, a bright, twenty-one year old whose life collapsed after she finished high school. Now, she lives in her mother's basement, spending nights on her computer, afraid to broach the world outside their door. Autism Grows Up is found at Prefer a boxed set? Get the first 3 books bundled together at Co-author of bestseller, The Official Autism 101 Manual (

B.A. in Psychology, B.Ed. in Special Education, M.A. in Educational Leadership PhD. in Psychology Management, specializing in autism.

Awards and Honors
B.R.A.G. Medallion for the novel Autism Goes to School - Book 1 in the School Daze Series. ( Like Autism Goes to School, the third book in the series, Autism Belongs, also ranked #1 on Amazon ( Manny is not like other children. He doesn’t talk. He doesn’t leave the house. His parents desperately try to arrange their world so that Manny does not get upset. Because, when he does, well, the aggression was getting worse. At ten, Manny was becoming difficult to handle.

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