Dr. Gary Feldman has specialized in diagnosing and designing tailor-made support plans for children with autism and Fragile X syndrome for over 15 years. If you are concerned about your child's developmental progress, or would like to get them evaluated for autism, click below to book a consultation.
What are the signs of autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder can take many different forms and can occur on a spectrum from mild to severe, as suggested by the name. In general, autism affects communication, social skills, and the ability to self-regulate. While there is currently no single known cause of all forms of autism, signs can sometimes be detectable as early as 18 months to 2 years old.
Nonverbal, atypical, or delayed speech patterns
Trouble understanding gestures and facial expressions
Difficulty or lack of interest in keeping conversation
Avoids eye contact or other non-verbal displays of attention
Repetitive behavior, movements, or word patterns
Intense and restricted fixation on specific interests
Difficulty with transition and/or any changes to routine; prefers predictability
Extreme sensitivity to sound, touch, or other stimuli
Tendency to lose control when feeling overwhelmed – perhaps displaying destructive behaviors
Prefers playing alone and/or has trouble connecting with others
Early diagnosis and intervention is enormously beneficial to the long-term success of children with autism.
Do vaccines cause autism?
There is overwhelming evidence that vaccines do not cause autism. Why, then, is this such a common question? In 1998, a team of British researchers published a study suggesting a possible link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. One of the doctors – without the backing of the rest of the research team – subsequently released a video claiming there was a definite relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism, but concealed that he had a patent pending for a competing vaccine (financial interest) and had also been paid by attorneys seeking to file suits against vaccine manufacturers. Over the next decade, countless studies were performed all over the world examining the relationship between vaccines and autism. To this day, no relationship has been found. In fact, the journal retracted the original case study, the team of researches formally distanced themselves from the doctor in question, and the doctor himself was found to have acted "dishonestly and irresponsibly" by the United Kingdom Medical Council and had his medical license removed. There was additional evidence that he had falsified information and treated autistic children unethically.
But why do children so often get diagnosed after being vaccinated?
Just because two things happen at the same time, does not mean one causes the other. For example, as ice cream sales increase, the rates of drowning increase. Based on the correlation, one could say that ice cream sales cause drowning, but of course that is not true. The missing factor is that ice cream sales increase during hotter months – the same time when swimming increases. So what does this have to do with autism?
As pediatricians have learned more about the signs and symptoms of autism, they have been able to make diagnoses at younger ages. Most children receive the bulk of their vaccines around the same age (12 to 18 months) that delays in developmental benchmarks tend to be noticeable. Though these events occur at the same time, they are not related.
Although we know that autism is not caused by vaccines, the rates of autism have been on the rise for decades. Today, about 1in 54 children in the US are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder – more than double what it was in 2000 – with occurrence about 4x more likely in boys than girls. There are several factors at play in this rise.
Most notably, pediatricians have a much more established set of criteria for diagnosing autism today than they did 75 years ago or even 25 years ago. Categorizing autism as being on a spectrum has given physicians a better way to define and diagnose the condition, and increased awareness of autism has also made parents much more likely to seek out a diagnosis. For these reasons, it's highly possible that a greater proportion of individuals are being diagnosed who in previous years would have never received a diagnosis, or perhaps would have been given a diagnosis of "intellectual disability."
In addition to more effective diagnosis, there is evidence to suggest that the actual occurrences are increasing. While researchers are still trying to determine what environmental, genetic, or other factors could have an effect, there are findings that children born to parents of advanced age may be at higher risk. Additionally, the Fragile X mutation is the most common known single gene cause of autism.
Fragile X Syndrome & Autism
Fragile X syndrome is the most common known single gene cause of autism. Approximately 1/3 of all children diagnosed with Fragile X syndrome also have some degree of autism. The Fragile X genetic mutation can be accurately diagnosed with a simple DNA blood test. The mutation often worsens when passed from mother to child. Because of this, children born with Fragile X syndrome frequently appear in families with no previous history of intellectual disability. Fragile X appears in children of all ethnic, racial and socio-economic backgrounds.
Physical Signs of Fragile X syndrome:
Behavioral Signs of Fragile X syndrome:
Extreme sensitivity to touch
Repetitive speech and/or slow speech development
Extreme desire to avoid eye contact
Getting a child tested and treated early for Fragile X can help tremendously with his or her development in the future.
During Dr. Gary Feldman's 16 years working with behavior and neurodevelopment conditions in children he has become one of Southern California's leading behavioral pediatricians in the treatment of autism and Fragile X syndrome. We know that challenges in a child's development can be extremely stressful on the entire family, which is why we are dedicated to coming up with long-term solutions that can improve quality of life for everyone.
Prior to the child's first visit, parents and those involved in the child's daily life (the child’s school teachers, daycare staff and caregivers) will be given a pre-evaluation that asks various questions about the child’s activity and behavior. This information gives Dr. Feldman a clearer understanding of the child's background and allow them to make the most accurate diagnosis. Throughout the child's first visit and the course of his or her treatment, we work closely with the family and conducts the most up-to-date standardized tests and assesments to ensure growth and development goals are achieved.
Assessment to Support Growth
Dr. Feldman utilizes special techniques that are play-based to help a behaviorally or developmentally delayed child learn how to sharpen motor skills, focus, create neurological stimulus and even something as basic as how to smile. Our team will complete an assessment and refer each patient to appropriate centers. We provide medicine management, case management, and medical advice where appropriate and applicable.
Continued Follow-Up Care
Routine appointments are made with the child as needed to encourage continued growth and development and to track progress. The number of visits a child needs per year are based upon the child’s diagnosis and condition.
Book An Appointment
To make an appointment for an autism or Fragile X consultation, call us at (949) 446-8990, or click below to fill out an appointment request, and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
About the Doctor
GARY FELDMAN, MD
Pediatric Sleep Specialist
Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrician
With over 16 years of experience, Dr. Gary Feldman founded Ocean Medicine after developing a longstanding reputation for excellence in pediatric sleep and behavior medicine as the Medical Director of the Stramski Children's Developmental Center at Miller Children's & Women's Hospital Long Beach since 2004. He was named 2010 Physician of the Year by Miller Children's and Women's Hospital Long Beach, and has been named a Southern California Super Doctor since 2014. He has received numerous other awards acknowledging his distinctions in behavioral pediatrics and sleep medicine, and is a sought-after speaker on these topics as well as international adoption medine.