Autism is one of the fastest-growing neurodevelopmental disabilities in the United States. It is also one of the least understood. However experts are learning more daily, through study and research. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities monitoring (ADDM) Network and broke indication that 1 in 68 children have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).Read More About Treatment for Autism
Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction, communication skills, and cognitive function. Individuals with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities.
Individuals with autism often suffer from a large variety of co-morbid medical conditions which may include: allergies, asthma, epilepsy, digestive disorders, persistent viral infections, feeding disorders, sensory integration dysfunction, sleeping disorders, and much more.
Children with autism do progress – early intervention is key!
Signs of Autism
Many signs and symptoms of autism appear between 12 months and 18 months old, but children can begin to show symptoms at just 3 months old.
A child showing signs of Autism may:
- Not respond to their name by 12 months of age
- Not point at objects to show interest (point to desired object) by 14 months
- Not engage in pretend play (pretend to “feed” a doll) by 18 months
- Avoid Eye contact
- Be self absorbed/prefers to play alone
- Use scripts sentences or repeats questions/words (echolalia)
- Use few or no gestures
- Have a flat or inappropriate facial expressions
- Not understand personal space boundaries
- Demonstrate to have little or no body awareness
- Line up toys or other objects
- Play with toys the same way every time
- Show obsession with parts of objects (e.g., wheels on a toy car)
- Get upset by minor changes
- Have obsessive interests
- Have to follow certain routines
- Flap hands, rocks body, or spins self in circles
- Have trouble understanding
- Exhibit no big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
- Not share back-and-forth sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
- Not babble by 12 months
- Not use gestures such as pointing, showing or reaching or waving by 12 months
- Not use words by 16 months
- Exhibit a loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age
Listed above are some “red flags” which may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, please don’t delay in asking your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation.
Coming to terms with the fact that your child has an ASD can be an overwhelming experience. For some, the diagnosis may come as a complete surprise and others may have had suspicions and tried for months or years to get a precise diagnosis. In either case, a diagnosis brings a variety of questions about how to proceed.
With appropriate training and information, supports and services, children on the autism spectrum will learn, flourish and grow, even if at a different developmental rate than others.
Treatment must begin as early as possible and be tailored to the child’s unique strengths, weaknesses and needs. At Family First Speech, we are passionate about the DIR® Model and focus intervention on building the core challenge of Autism such as relating and communicating with others. Please click here to learn more…