Most doctors believe that autism can’t be detected until around age two and a half or three when the obvious withdrawn or delayed symptoms are visible. However, researchers and experts are beginning to observe symptoms at an earlier age, and possibly even as early as six months of age. Autism expert and co-founder of the Brain Balance Achievement Centers, Dr. Robert Melillo, believes there is much that can be done to stop and correct the problem when spotted at an earlier age.
Researchers have found developmental milestones to be very critical to neurological disorders. “Milestones signal that the brain is developing normally. If an infant or toddler is having a problem with motor progression, then they most likely are developing other issues, including digestion problems and immune and hormone imbalances,” says Dr. Melillo. “The best and earliest way to spot if something might be amiss is by tracking your baby’s primitive reflexes.”
As the basic necessities a newborn needs for survival, primitive reflexes give babies the instinct to breathe, feed when hungry, and squirm and cry when uncomfortable. They pave the way for early development and milestones, including rolling over at three to five months. Primitive reflexes develop in the womb and if they are faulty may result in a difficult birth, in such cases, an early brain imbalance may be present.
In babies, muscle movement prompts genes to build the brain and grow the neurons and connections that advance a newborn from one milestone to the next. The new connections inhibit primitive reflexes and set the stage for more complex movements.
“If a child doesn’t stimulate genes to build the brain, primitive reflexes remain and the brain doesn’t develop in an orderly fashion,” continues Dr. Melillo. “Children cannot leapfrog milestones, it results in the missed construction of an important skill and you can’t activate it later on.” According to Dr. Melillo, depending on how the imbalance unfolds – if step after step is missed – it could result in autism or any other neurological condition.
In his newly available book Autism: The Scientific Truth About Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders and What Parents Can Do Now, Dr. Melillo discusses ways for parents to test for primitive reflexes in babies and how to monitor to make sure development is on track.