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Signs of autism

For years researchers have said children with autism are more likely to have large heads, a phenomenon they attributed to "early brain overgrowth." But now several scientists are questioning assumptions about brain overgrowth and autism, especially how common it is. Their stories spotlight the important ways science reconsiders evidence in the search for answers.

Some of a child’s early symptoms of autism may be among the most puzzling to parents: hand-flapping, rocking, lining up toys, or finding the whirling blades of a fan more interesting than the world around him. Psychologists call these repetitive and restricted behaviors. Guidelines for diagnosing autism now place a greater emphasis on these behaviors.

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