Durable Human (2 book series)

Virtual Autism: A New Threat to Toddlers

Dr. Anne-Lise Ducanda manipulates toy ball

Don’t miss the interview with a mom who helped her 14-month-old son overcome screen-induced syndrome, a condition also termed “virtual autism.”: Watch it here.

Pediatricians are alarmed that babies and toddlers who spend hours a day on phones, tablets, and around TVs can develop a syndrome of marked behavioral changes that appear similar to autistic-like symptoms. The good news: the changes often disappear when the children stop all screen exposure and switch to face-to-face contact, reading, and play with parents, caregivers, other children, and non-electronic toys.

Two doctors in France are leading an awareness campaign, which they explain in this video.

“Screen viewing several hours a day prevents the brain from developing and generates behavior problems and relationship problems,” reports Dr. Anne-Lise Ducanda, speaking also for colleague Dr. Isabelle Terrasse. “We decided to make this video to warn parents, professionals, and public bodies of the grave dangers of all screens for children between the ages of zero to four.”

The doctors had noticed more and more toddlers with unusual changes in behavior. Some had stopped responding to their names and speaking words, began avoiding eye contact, and had become indifferent to the world around them. Many children lagged behind developmentally for their age and were language delayed. 

Pediatrician holds up drawings by two 4-year-olds. The drawing by the child who is on screens a lot is much less detailed than the one drawn by a child who doesn't spend much time on screens.

Drawing on left by a 4-year-old who spends little time on screen media. Drawing on right by a slightly older 4-year-old who was highly screen-exposed..

After asking parents in detail about the kids’ media use and household exposure, the doctors discovered almost all the children had spent large amounts of time on and around screens—in some cases, ten hours a day. But when families stopped the child’s screen exposure and greatly increased social interaction and play with the child, most if not all aspects of the condition eventually disappeared.

Various studies in Romania have come to similar conclusions, one stating “sensory-motor and socio-affective deprivation caused by the consumption of more than 4 hours/day of virtual environment can activate behaviours and elements similar to those found in children diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).”

Because this phenomenon has been so often observed in Romania, screen withdrawal there is now a therapeutic protocol for early ASD and a campaign is underway informing parents about the problem.

Romanian psychologist Marius Zamfir coined the term “Virtual Autism” to describe the screen-induced syndrome. He worries about lack of motivation among children exposed to excessive screen content. “Children’s brains are used to getting pleasure without making any effort at all,” he says in this video made for the Romanian public information campaign.  

Meanwhile, a study released in 2022 of more than 84,000 Japanese babies and their mothers found that “among boys, longer screen time at 1 year of age was significantly associated with autism spectrum disorder at 3 years of age.”

“With the rapid increase in device usage,” concluded the authors, “it is necessary to review the health effects of screen time on infants and to control excessive screen time.” 

Study Proves Observable Brain Changes

A study of toddlers’ brains seems to bear out the behavioral indicators.

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital researchers show evidence in JAMA Pediatrics that young children who spend more than two hours a day on screens have less brain white matter. The brain’s white matter aids in thought processing and organization, as well as performing other vital functions.

“Think of white matter as cables, sort of like telephone lines that are connecting the various parts of the brain so they can talk to each other,” study author Dr. John Hutton told CNN.

“These are tracks that we know are involved with language and literacy,” he continued. “And these were the ones relatively underdeveloped in these kids with more screen time.”

47 healthy toddlers were studied. Screen exposure among them ranged from zero to about five hours a day.

In their report, the study authors did not make a connection to virtual autism nor did they specifically mention autistic-like symptoms.

Astronomical Rise in Autism Incidence

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in 1975—when VCRs first came on scene—only one in 5,000 children in the U.S. was reported to have ASD. But by 2016, video on demand had become ubiquitous and the incidence of ASD had risen to one child in 68. The CDC now estimates the rate is 1 child in every 44

Until very recently, “AV (audio-visual) exposure in infancy has been overlooked” as a risk factor for autism, according to research ophthalmologist Karen Frankel Heffler of Drexel University College of Medicine. As she writes in the journal Medical Hypotheses, “There has been an explosion in viewing opportunities for infants over the past 25 years, which parallels the rise in autism.”

“Attention in the vulnerable infant is drawn away from healthy social interactions toward TV, computer screens, and electronic toys,” according to Heffler.

In early 2020, JAMA Pediatrics published an analysis that Heffler co-authored which found that babies who viewed TV and videos at age one had a slightly greater chance of displaying autistic-like symptoms than non-TV watching babies by the age of two. Conversely, the study found, “Less screen exposure and more parent-child play at 12 months of age were associated with fewer ASD-like symptoms at 2 years of age.”

In 2022, Heffler’s team published a pilot intervention involving 9 children between 1 1/2 and 3 1/2 years of age who were diagnosed with ASD and watched at least 2 hours of screen media a day.

As the study shows, when screen time was replaced by increased interaction with caregivers, “Children’s screen viewing decreased from an average of 5.6 hours/day prior to intervention to 5 min/day during the study. Significant improvements were observed in core autism symptoms and parent stress from pre- to post-intervention.”

Heffler’s team also published a case study of two toddlers diagnosed with autism showed that when screen time was stopped and social time increased, there were “marked improvements in developmental trajectories.” 

Australian research also shows that babies with early signs of autism may avoid an autism diagnosis if parents are taught communication skills through video feedback

LEARN ABOUT THE LATEST TODDLERS AND SCREENS RESEARCH HERE FROM DR. KAREN HEFFLER  

Researcher has Firsthand Experience with Screen-Induced Syndrome 

At the first-ever Children’s Screen Time Action Network conference, I happened to meet Dr. Heffler’s research associate, Lori Frome, M.Ed. Frome is an autism treatment specialist who discovered, also by chance, that the symptoms in one of her young patients who had been diagnosed with ASD disappeared after her screen exposure was curtailed.

Frome then tried the same treatment on her own young son, who also had an ASD diagnosis. Over the course of several months with no screens but intensive face-to-face interaction with herself and other loved ones, he had “a complete developmental trajectory change in the core deficits of ASD,” as Frome describes in this video. In other words, her son became developmentally normal for his age. 

Screen media has a “very addictive power,” says Dr. Ducanda. “Little by little the child can no longer do without and demands it more and more. If the parents try and withdraw him, he can go into a real meltdown.”

Doctors Ducanda and Terrasse contend that heavy doses of screen time affect what would be, in pre-digital times, the natural wiring of a child’s brain.

Watching a ball move on a screen, for instance, does not register in a child’s mind the same way it does to manipulate and throw a ball. Says Dr. Ducanda: “The small child’s brain cannot develop without this sense of touch.”

Dr. Andrew Doan, an ophthalmologist and neuroscientist, produced this video explaining the phenomenon of Virtual Autism, with great suggestions on how to limit children’s screen viewing.

In this TEDx talk, I discuss the importance of parent-child Attachment and how digital devices can interfere with early relational health. 

Avoiding Screen-Induced Syndrome

So, what’s a parent to do? For one thing: respect the child’s basic developmental needs. For babies and toddlers to learn to speak, reason, and develop crucial social skills, they need face-to-face interaction with loving people and to use all their senses as often as they can.

A study from Iran proves the power of parent interaction and play. Investigators selected 12 toddlers with autistic-like symptoms who had spent half their waking hours on screen devices. Their parents were then given 8 weeks of lessons in how to play with their children, with an emphasis on eye-to-eye contact, loving touch, and continuous communication. While the parents applied these lessons at home, objects that had absorbed the children’s attention were taken away, including digital devices.

At the end of the two-month period, the children’s screen time had shrunk to a bare minimum, their ASD-like repetitive behaviors were greatly reduced, and brain studies showed ASD-like readings had returned to nearly normal.

Screen time duration drops in Journal of Asian Psychiatry Study from Iran

One of the study’s chief investigators told me consistency is the key. For the intervention to work, the parents had to stick with high-touch, high-talk interaction all day every day during the children’s waking hours. He says researchers can now confidently recommend that children under age three should spend their time playing and interacting face-to-face with caring adults and not using digital devices.

The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees that babies and toddlers should never use screens alone. Any interaction with screens should be limited to video calls with loved ones, with a caregiver standing by.  

Preschoolers should not have more than one hour of screen time a day in order “to allow children ample time to engage in other activities important to their health and development,” says the AAP.

The World Health Organization agrees that, for the sake of their health and proper brain formation, children under age one should have no exposure to screens.

Life Balance Guidelines for Infants from the World Health Organization

World Health Organization Infant Guidelines (Under Age One)

Early Childhood is a Once in a Lifetime Opportunity

When you look through Today’s lens, early childhood has become a rarified, once-in-a-lifetime pre-digital opportunity. As I write in The Durable Human Manifesto: Practical Wisdom for Living and Parenting in the Digital Age, each child begins life as a “wild human”—as free and unplugged as any other animal.

“When toddlers range around, freely using all of their senses to examine, taste and play with whatever they choose, they are making rich and lifelong neural connections.”

Boy playing outside with toy trucks

So kids can stay on a healthy developmental track, experts including Dr. Ducanda and Lori Frome recommend that you:

  • Talk, play, and read with your child every day as much as possible
  • Provide materials, toys, and games that require manipulation, such as empty plastic food containers and lids, stacking cups, play dough, finger paints, and a play kitchen
  • Go outside at least once a day and make sure the child has time to play alone and with other children
  • Not use screens when you are with your young child
  • Not hand a phone to your baby or young child (and keep the screen locked, just in case they grab it)
  • Keep the TV off around kids under age four, even if it’s TV on in the background and child doesn’t seem to be paying attention to what’s on the screen
  • Explain to family members and caregivers why these measures are essential to a child’s healthy development, durability, and well-being

Great grandfather plays on floor with great grandson

Dr. Heffler points out in her research that characteristics that may resemble those associated with autism in very young children can have a variety of causes. If symptoms do arise, Dr. Ducanda and her colleagues recommend keeping the child away from all screens for at least a month, which will require the cooperation of every household member. If that can be accomplished, she claims, ASD-like problems in many children may “miraculously disappear or diminish considerably.”

Conversely, if a child has a full, well-balanced life with very minimal screen exposure, these types of symptoms may never emerge.

Parent Resources

Watch an interview of an American mother who came forward after discovering information on this post to tell the story of how her 14-month-old son developed and overcame screen-induced syndrome. 

This site has links to research and researchers.  

Watch webinars with Lori Frome M. Ed. who explains how to detect, treat, and avoid screen-induced syndrome: 

See the latest webinar on YouTube:

Webinar Welcome Page "Virtual Autism. What to Look For. What to Do."

Also see this earlier webinar: 

Welcome screen Virtual Autism webinar "Learn More About Virtual Autism"

Download Lori Frome’s specially-curated Parent Resource List from the box on this page.

Finally, in this simple online course, I teach parents why and how to create loving bonds with their babies and toddlers as well as to maximize their brain development and language learning.

Note: This post was last updated on December 14, 2023

About the author:

The mom of three practicing durable humans, DurableHuman.com founder Jenifer Joy Madden is a certified digital wellness instructor, health journalist, digital media adjunct professor, and author of How To Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital Age Through the Power of Self-Design and The Durable Human Manifesto.

Her work has informed millions on ABC News and Discovery Health Channel, in The Washington Post, Readers Digest and other news outlets.

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Carolina

Hello, my name is Carolina. I am from Venezuela but I live in Chile. I am a mother of a wonderful 20-month-old baby girl. I am a working mom. Since my baby was little, approx since she was 3 months old, I relied on screens so I could cook and clean while taking care of her, but we still interacted a lot. Then, when she was 6 months old, I went to work and left her in the care of a woman who leaned much more on the screens and interacted little with her because, due to her age, she doesn’t usually lie down on the floor to play. My daughter today says a few words (mom, dad, water, milk), and babbles frequently, but does not respond to her name, does not point, and has very poor eye contact. We are in the process of diagnosing ASD, applying the ADOS-2. However, I have always thought that the reason for his symptoms is the screens. Today we have had 0 screens on our part for 2 weeks, but I know that the caregiver has put them on when feeding her. Just today I told her that we were deciding to cut them for all and that she couldn’t use the phone while with her. We will also begin speech and behavioral therapy to improve the social skills of my daughter. Plus she will start going to kindergarten next week. There are many changes at the same time, I have a lot of hope (especially after reading the blog) but also a lot of fears. If anyone went through a similar journey and can tell me their testimony, it would help me a lot. In these two weeks with very little screen time, my daughter has improved her eye contact (although it is still similar to that of someone who is autistic), she babbles a lot more and seems to be starting to want to add new words. I have faith. Thanks for creating this community.

Erica

It JUST hit me. After watching the Durable Human Youtube videos and Robin’s story. I always wondered why my son only wanted me to do something and he didn’t reciprocate (I would push a toy car to him but he would walk it to me to do again instead of pushing it back). It’s because of the TV! He would watch the kids on the TV push cars around or do this & that and he would never do it back because there’s no interaction other than watching. Holy moly.

I did want to reach out and say that I’ve watched Robin & Lori’s videos so many times now and I’m hoping it’s not too late to help my kiddo. He will be 3 in April. I want nothing more for him than to have a normal, successful life. We’ve cut the screens (about a week) and I noticed he is imitating more (i.e. his dad dropped a cuss word in the Chik-fil-A drive through and didn’t he repeat it….). He’s never quite checked all of the “autism” boxes so when I accidentally stumbled upon VA I was like, this has gotta be a factor in his language delay (receptive and expressive) and other things. I put him in front of screens as a NEWBORN! I had horrible PPA and he was a fussier baby and sometimes I needed a breath. But the past is the past and I’m praying, PRAYING that going forward I can make a big difference in his life.

I guess this is a good place to write his progress for my own sake too! Will keep everyone posted. Wish us luck!

Lara H

Hi! Me again! We’ve been screenfree for a bit over 4 months. Some things are going great whilst others not as good. We are still in the beginning of our journey so that’s to be expected. I wanted to ask about this new behaviour we are experiencing and whether this happens at all with screen affected kids. My son has started to cover his ears when sat at a table (therapy at home) or when eating. There is no sound so I am unsure why he is doing it and whether it’s some new stim or self soothing behavior. Can children who are screen affected be sensitive to sound or is that more common in classical autism? . He has never had an issue with loud noises or crowded places and it seems like that’s still the case. Why he feels the need to block out sensory input in this way is unclear but worries me that I’m wrong about his autism symptoms being screen induced

Lara H

He’s 2 years and 7 months

Lily

Hi, I just wanted to share a little bit of my my experience with my daughter hoping I can get some feedback.

My daughter was exposed to a lot of screen time since 6 months and it started increasing as she got older as I worked from home. Also, I did not have much face-to-face interaction with her and rarely took her out. Moreover, I realized she was developing autistic symptoms.

I thought she was a “good baby” as she would just sit and watch tv and “play” by herself for a big part of the day.

At 19 months almost 20 months I realized the following
-No eye contact
-no response to name
-sometimes spinning with corner eyes
-toe walking sometimes
-no pointing
-no words
-not much babbling
-lining up and sorting toys
-no waving
– she would always want to hold an object on each hand

As I realized this I panicked and started to search on google and YouTube and fell on the autism rabbit hole. I became so depressed.

Then I came across “virtual autism.” So one month ago I stopped screen time completely.

In 1 week I noticed her eye contact started to come back and after 2 weeks she also had name response. After one month now her eye contact and name response is great. The spinning and corner eyes have completely stopped but still does the occasional toe walking.

As of now there is no pointing yet or words although she started babbling more in the past 2 days. She still lines up toys but a little less now as I am showing her how to play with them. Also, She still likes to hold objects in her hands but not as much as she used to.

I also wanted to add, before she only wanted me and didn’t like her dad or brother to hug, kiss or even talk to her as she would get bothered. Now that all of us interact so much with her by playing and singing nursery rhymes to her, she now goes up to them and hugs them and gets happy when she sees them.

She comes up to me and her dad making hand gestures for songs like “ baby shark” or “twinkle little star” depending on which songs she wants us to sing to her and she imitates the gestures as we sing them to her. She also high fives now. She started to wave hi about 3 days ago but only to her dad. Now she started bringing books that she wants me to read to her. We never did any of this with her before and I just feel so guilty.

After I stopped screen time the first 2 weeks she had so many meltdowns throughout the day and very intense. She still has many melt downs but not as much as before.

She has a hard time being outdoors. I started taking her to the park everyday since I stopped screen time and the first week she did not want me to put her her down or else she would just cry. As the weeks went by it got a bit better but as of now she can only be running around or climbing for about 15 minutes at a time and then she just wants to be held. So what I do I take things to eat to take breaks in between. One thing about her is she loves to eat so we always have picnics at the park.

Dad is convinced she’s doesn’t not have classic autism because of how much improvement she has made in a month but it’s still in the back of my head to be honest.

Robin

Lily, hello and welcome!

Your daughter in first month of screen removal sounds like an exact replica of my now fully recovered son’s (and many, many other childrens’ ) first month of the screen removal process. Eye contact and response to name are usually the first things to emerge again during the protocol, as well as waving and other simple gestures like lifting arms to ask to be held. She is following a perfectly expected trajectory based on her screen viewing and age. You and your family will help her get through this. I love your idea about bringing food to the playground to prolong the activity.

I have spoken to many parents just like you, very often in the beginning of the screen removal protocol for their children. And always, they come with an impressive list of improvements their child is experiencing once stopping screens. And, like you, they are hesitant to have hope, because it seems too good to be true. A miracle before your eyes seems to be happening, a miracle in your own home done by your own hands. You’re here because you want someone to pinch you and tell you that you aren’t dreaming. Here is your pinch, Lily. You aren’t dreaming. Your daughter is getting better and she will continue to improve thanks to your love and attention.

There will be many ups and downs during this journey. Kids will appear to regress during times of illness or stress, but they always bounce back. Sometimes what appear to be plateaus in improvement happen but it’s just the child’s way of committing all their new skills to permanency before moving on fully primed and eager to learn more. I invite you to read all the information and watch all the videos on this page, as well as browse the comments section.

Write as often as you like for advice, support, or to share joys with us.

Robin

PS- the guilt fades over time. As your daughter gets better and better, the guilt will ease.

Lily

Hi Robin, thank you for your reply. Your story brings so much hope since I’m constantly so confused about her “condition.”

Sometimes I see her and tell myself that she’s just delayed and many aspects due to the excessive screen time and lack of social interaction but I also can’t help it and think if it can be something more and will she be able to recover fully. I can’t sleep or eat just of the thought.

I try to focus on all the progress she has made. She will be starting speech therapy next week and hoping that it will also help. I’m nervous to see what the speech therapist is going to tell me about my daughter although I already know she is language and speech delayed.

I’ve watched your video and all the other videos focusing on “virtual autism” and taking notes on how I can help my daughter through this process.

I hope and pray that one day I become a success story and spread awareness on this topic just like you.

Thank you again Robin for your kind and supportive words they truly mean a lot. I want to continue being part of this community and support each other.

Lily

Hi, so I wanted to ask if lining up toys or objects concerning? My daughter is still doing this with certain toys that are alike. Also with other objects around the house that are similar. She does not fixate to the point where she spends long periods of time . She will just line them up once and then walk away. But she does this everyday.

Darlin

Hi Lily! Sounds like a lot of progress in a month! I’ve been going through the same. Do you want to chat via email? If so, my email is Luzfrias02@gmail.com. It’s easier to have a back and forth conversation.

Lily

Hi Darlin, hope all is well. Yes I will email you.

Victoria

Hello Robin,

Sorry it’s me again. But this page really gives me hope. So me and my daughter currently traveled again to get our therapies in place (speech and ABA).

We do everything privately so I’m never 100% sure if money is just being pulled out of me.

So we came to our therapy and I thought you know they will tell me how amazing her progress is because she is now doing lots of more new things. Like she has great eye contact, she wants to play with other kids (when she goes in therapy waiting area she always tries to engage with other kids). She jumps, kicks ball, plays, understands instructions. Like she is still stubborn (I think it’s normal for any toddler). For example she will not follow an instruction if she doesn’t want to.

But what therapist has told me is that she thinks she has regression and gave me following reasons.
1. She doesn’t point when she wants toys and instead just takes them, but in our home she doesn’t have to ask for every single toy.
2. She doesn’t follow all instructions
3. Doesn’t want to clean up toys (like I don’t know any toddler that does this willingly)

The word regression hit me so hard and made me so upset I don’t know. Would you consider this a regression?

Like she hardly stims (only when there is a reason such as excitement).

She copies some actions now if I ask like look blow a kiss. Waves hello and goodbye to everyone. She does to potty now. If potty is there we literally go though 1 nappy a day when she is outside.

Yes she is nearly 2.5 but picture was very doffferent before. So I’m comparing progress and not where she should be at. But when I spoke to therapist she can’t tell me at what level her autism is or anything just tells me she has it and that’s it.

Keeps telling me her speech emergence is random too. But she never just randomly says banana she will see banana and say it. Yes it doesn’t happen on request but again for me it doesn’t feel like a vocal stim.

They told me to remove all toys and only give her them when she asks. Anyone here done that ? It feels harsh and it upsets her 🥺

I’ve been employing different techniques at home. I’ve been teaching her things in more loving way. I tech her gestures, eye contact, new words in form of play. She makes pancakes with me for example as wel and I tech her how to mix things, break eggs etc. I just found that for me making her sit at a table and force things into her makes her more distressed than helping. 🥺 I’m lost in this a little. I thought she was making an amazing progress and so did my family but this just knocked me down.

Lastly, it’s 5 months screen free with lots of loving interaction and I think if she was autistic she wouldn’t be where we are at.

She understands most of speech
Plays with kids , not all the time but she wants to she notices them and comes up to them to initiate play. Like she doesn’t have pretend play but I think it’s going to happen soon. She drives her animals around in a bus or car. Sometimes the head hog intentionally falls off and she loughs.

She also understands now when I cry (or pretend cry) and pats my head.

She goes to potty and even shows me she needs it sometimes.

She sleeps and eats well.

She loughs and is very happy.

She needs and strives for my company.

She likes to cuddle, have her back tickled.

Nursery also tell me they don’t see anything wrong with her except her speech delay and that she may be a little too active but within the norms.

And I’m sure there is more I didn’t think about…

Oh last thing they keep telling me I only have until 3 to start her speach after that it will be hard. 😭 so that sent me to tears and worry!

Really really looking forwards to hear from you ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Robin

Victoria,

Hello and don’t be sorry, please write as much as you need!

The unfortunate circumstance is that the correlation between screen use by young children and autistic like symptoms is not well known by the medical community at large, so it will be very hard to find a therapist that will agree. Studies have not been done on a large enough scale yet to break the results we are seeing here with screen removal into the mainstream. This is sad for the world of course, but it doesn’t need to be sad for you, because you are doing the work and seeing the results right now in your own home. And you will continue to see results.

Since the screen removal protocol for toddlers with autistic-like behaviors is not widely known, and doesn’t have many studies done, doctors and child development professionals can’t say “oh of course! Her autism-like behaviors are stopping” because outside of the screen removal protocol, that just doesn’t happen. Kids don’t just “get better”. So once the label of autism is there, it’s essentially permanent in the eyes of the medical community.

I agree with you that your daughter is improving immensely and you are on the right track. If it wasn’t the screens, then why is she doing so much better? In fact, to me, she sounds like a very rapid case of progress. I am so impressed! Especially with her using the potty already! Many typically developing children cannot be potty trained yet at 2.5.

I personally don’t think your daughter is regressing, based on all that you’ve told us here. She sounds like she is moving forward every day. She sounds like she is following an extremely typical arc of progress we would expect for the screen removal protocol.

The complete toy removal sounds too extreme, but I did do a much gentler version of that with my son during his recovery. I put one of his favorite toys up on a shelf where he could see it, and I waited for him to “ask” for it. At first I would give it to him if he pointed. I would model the words for him “give. Give the toy. You want me to give the toy. I will give you the toy” Then I would not give it to him for only pointing, but I would wait and say “give? Should I give?” Pretending to be clueless, and here we would build some mild frustration in hopes of getting the child to make a noise, any noise. So after my son would finally grunt and point at the toy exasperatedly, I would say “give? Did you say give? Okay I will give you the toy.” And act like that noise was the same as saying the word. It gets the child in the frame of mind that using their voice gets their needs met. Only let the frustration become mild, you are just trying to get a noise out of the child, not break their spirit. If it seems like you aren’t going to get a noise or word out of that interaction, simply give her the toy and model “give” and try again next time. This was taught to me by my son’s speech therapist.

To me your daughter sounds like she is doing great. I do not think she is regressing. I do not think you should be worried! You and your whole family have seen the progress, trust yourself! You have brought your daughter this far, you can bring her even farther.

If it was me and my son in that therapy, I would likely still bring him to the therapy but pick and choose the techniques and strategies I wanted, and not let the autism label get me down.

Keep going!
Robin

Robin

Oh and on the speech before age 3

Her speech has been started. You said she understands your commands and will say things like banana in context. So it has already begun. It’s not like she has 0 speech skills at this time. They are behind sure, but they have begun well before the age of 3.

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