Sunday, June 29, 2008

Signs of Autism

Someone recently asked me how I knew my kids were autistic and what were the signs. I don't know if other parents with autistic children get this question and how they feel about answering it without causing unnecessary worry--given the fact that lots of kids develop at different speeds; for instance, a parent might make note that their 2 year old isn't talking very much or maybe not at all...(this was this person's concern) this certainly does not mean that the child has autism. My opinion about parents who "worry" about autism is that it is a very good thing, meaning that there is much more awareness of the disorder than ever before (given the fact that, as of today, 1 out of 150 children have been diagnosed with autism--when my daughter was diagnosed at age 2.5--10 years ago--the stats were 1 and over 1000 children were diagnosed) and that parents and their pediatrician are more aware of the signs of autism than ever before. In fact, as reported in this story by CNN, the American Academy of Pediatrics is making a push to have every child screened for autism twice by age 2. The academy's new report gives explicit instructions for the warning signs of autism at various ages.

Parents should watch for signs, including not making eye contact, not recognizing a parent's voice, not babbling by age 9 months and not using pre-speech gestures such as waving, pointing and showing.

Experts agree that early intervention is important in addressing the symptoms associated with autism. The earlier treatment is started, the better the chance the child could reach normal functioning levels.

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