What do I do if I suspect my child might have Autism or a related disability?
The Centers for Disease Control lists the following “Possible Red Flags” for Autism Spectrum Disorder on their website (www.cdc.gov). Please keep in mind that these are just things to watch for.
- Not respond to their name by 12 months of age
- Not point at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over) by 14 months
- Not play "pretend" games (pretend to "feed" a doll) by 18 months
- Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
- Have trouble understanding other people's feelings or talking about their own feelings
- Have delayed speech and language skills
- Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
- Give unrelated answers to questions
- Get upset by minor changes
- Have obsessive interests
- Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
- Have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
Generally speaking, one red flag should not set off alarms just yet. However, if you find that the list above describes your child in part, then you might want to consider looking into having your child evaluated. Most importantly, parents should follow their “gut”. If you suspect that something might be wrong, talk to your pediatrician about having your child evaluated. Research tells us that early intervention is the key to success in treating Autism Spectrum Disorders. If you suspect that your child is not developing expected, having he or she evaluated loses nothing. However, if you incorrectly ignore your parental instincts with the expectation that he or she will “grow out of it, critical early treatment years could be lost.
Your pediatrician should conduct developmental screenings at certain intervals. If the pediatrician suspects that the child is not developing properly, he or she will likely refer you to one of the following professionals for a Comprehensive Diagnostic Evalution:
- Developmental Pediatrician
- Child Neurologist
- Child Psychiatrist or Psychologist
If you are concerned, consult your pediatrician. If your pediatrician assures you that your child is fine but you still have concerns, don’t take no for an answer! Parents know best! If the results come back that your child is typically developing and you were just being “overly cautious”, what a fabulous way to be “wrong”!
The CDC has an abundance of information signs and diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Click here to visit their website: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html