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Autism/regression in Autism

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Question
I know a 12 year old who was functioning at a high level of Autism until about 2 months ago.  Until that time, this child was outgoing, communicative, with good vocabulary and speaking clearly. Suddenly, this child seems more withdrawn, speaks in a much lower tone and mumbles so that it's very difficult to understand him/her. To me, this is very different than the energetic child was 2 months ago, and I am worried that something more is going on.  Is it common for an Autistic child to regress after 12 years?

Answer
No, Diane, it's not common for a high functioning child to regress at age 12, at least not because of autism. I would be concerned that something else is going on.

First, how is he medically? Some kids with autism do not read their body signs well or may not complain of discomfort. It's possible for a child to have an ear infection or bladder infection without his caregivers being aware of the problem. An infection or illness can bring about behavioral changes in some children.

If he takes medication, has there been a changed in the meds or in the dose he takes? I knew a child whose behaviour altered inexplicably. The pharmacy had made a mistake and the wrong dose of his usual medication was dispensed, causing these reactions. There might be other, neurological reasons that could account for the changes you see in this boy. I would suggest starting with a medical examination.

Has anything changed in his life? Has he moved into a new home, living with different people, or lost some of the stability that has made his life safe and predictable?

It is not uncommon for high functioning adolescents to be bothered by mood disorders or depression.This is a time when peers are flexing their social wings and responding to each other in ways they may not have when younger. Adolescence is a time to go with the "in" fads - say the right words, wear the right clothes, listen to the right music, but these non-written rules often pass right over the heads of kids on the autism spectrum and they find themselves outside of a social circle. This is a tumultuous time for any young teen, but can be especially rough for a child with autism and the possibility of depression should be considered.

I think you are correct to be worried about this young man and the changes you observe.

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Dr. Sharon A. Mitchell

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Organizations
Website at http://www.drsharonmitchell.org and sits on Autism Today's Panel of Experts (www.autismtoday.com)

Publications
Author of "Autism Goes to School" - a novel about autism that that became an Amazon bestseller. Get this Amazon bestseller free at http://www.drsharonmitchell.org. 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. (https://www.amazon.ca/Autism-Runs-Away-Book-School-ebook/dp/B01FCYQ7DC). 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 https://www.amazon.com/Autism-Belongs-School-Daze-Book-ebook/dp/B0184ZQMI6. 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 https://www.amazon.ca/Autism-Talks-Book-School-Daze-ebook/dp/B01IIUZH3S 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 https://www.amazon.com/Autism-Grows-School-Daze-Book-ebook/dp/B01JB8QW3U. Prefer a boxed set? Get the first 3 books bundled together at https://www.amazon.com/Autism-Box-Set-School-Books-ebook/dp/B01KBEHJ08. Co-author of Amazon.com bestseller, The Official Autism 101 Manual (http://autism101manual.com/).

Education/Credentials
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. (http://www.bragmedallion.com/medallion-honorees/2013/school-daze-autism-goes-to-school). Like Autism Goes to School, the third book in the series, Autism Belongs, also ranked #1 on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Autism-Belongs-School-Daze-Book-ebook/dp/B0184ZQMI6). 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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