Health Watch - The Brain: Autism

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.


This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about the brain. When children don’t develop normally — when they don’t start talking at the right age or don’t interact with others — parents are understandably worried. Parents who notice these symptoms may ask their child’s pediatrician about autism.

Autism covers a spectrum of symptoms and conditions, ranging from mild social impairment to severe mental retardation. Dr. Catherine Karni, a psychiatrist at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says this is why autism is so difficult to diagnose. Having a team of specialists assess a child is more likely to lead to an accurate diagnosis — and autism is only one possible reason for the symptoms. Some signs that could indicate autism include impaired social interactions, impaired communication, restricted interests and repetitive behavior. Parents may bring these symptoms to the pediatrician’s attention, but the child should be referred to specialists for evaluation.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/mentalhealth to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in mental health.

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April 2009


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