Autism & Asperger's Syndrome Expert Forum
autism/hypothyroid
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Questions in the Autism & Asperger's Syndrome forum are answered by researchers at the New England Center for Children. Topics covered include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Antisocial Personality Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, Autism, blindness, bullying, clinical depression, deafness, dyslexia, mental retardation, and social alienation.

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autism/hypothyroid

my son was born with hypothyroidism,he just turned 2 years old,he has all of the characteristics of autism,especially the constant flapping and he always seems like hes in his own world and dosent seem to understand anything going on around him,his physical/speech therapist tell me kids with hypothyroid have the same characteristics of autism,also what can i do to stop the constant flapping.
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First and foremost, neonatal hypothyroidism is a serious condition and requires medical treatment.  If your son is currently under the care of your pediatrician or another physician for this condition then that is the most important thing here.  Thyroid replacement therapy is reported to be very effective.  Though hypothyroidism is treatable, it can lead to significant developmental impairment and other problems.  Low muscle tone is often reported though I am unaware of stereotypic behavior, like handflapping, being especially pronounced with this condition.  Nonetheless, stereotypy occurs with all children and adults at some level.  Children with autism tend to have more pronounced stereotypic behavior that persists and possibly becomes much more frequent as the child ages.  The typical approach to treating stereotypic behavior involves redirecting the child to other activities or teaching them to engage in more functional behavior like playing age-appropriate activities.  This is not always very easy to do and there are many situations in which these approaches could make the problem worse.  A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (or BCBA) is the most qualified person to assess handflapping and design proper intervention.  If you are interested in finding a BCBA in your area log onto www.bacb.com website and click on "Consumer Information" and then search the certificant registry for a professional in your area.  Given the concern of autistic-like behavior then it is probably also a good idea to have your son's development assessed.  For this I would suggest starting with a conversation with your pediatrician that you are concerned that your son may have autism and ask if s/he could recommend a qualified person to conduct developmental screening.  Your pediatrician should have access to a screening tool called the M-CHAT.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pediatricians use this with all children who are suspected to have problems with development.
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Jason C Bourret, Ph.D., BCBA-DBlank
The New England Center for Children
Southborough, MA
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