World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) was on April 2nd. Several countries, communities and people showcased Light Blue in recognition of people living with autism. Autism friendly events and related events will happen through out the month to encourage the autism community.
As parents, we never want to believe that our precious bundle has a problem. But when it comes to Autism it’s better to identify it at an early stage. Treatments can reduce the disorder’s effects and help your child learn, grow and thrive.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a group of development disabilities that can cause considerable social communication and behavioral challenges. Some children might repeat certain behaviors and might not be comfortable with change occurring in their daily activities. The ways of learning, paying attention or reacting to things is different with each ASD child. However there is no cure for ASD so far but research shows that early intervention treatment services can improve a child’s development.
The signs and symptoms of autism vary widely. Some autistic children only have mild impairments while others have more. However every child with autism is challenged in the following areas.
- Thinking and Behaving
Parents are in the best position of identifying the symptoms because you know your child better than anyone. The pediatrician can be a valuable asset but he/she might not have the chance to identify anything during your 15 mins visit.
- Monitor your child’s development
This is no easy task. We need to get out sometimes, relax and enjoy. But keeping a closer eye on when your child is hitting the key milestones is an effective way to spot the problems early.
- Take actions if you are concerned
Each child’s development is different. So you don’t need to worry or panic. But if the child is not meeting the milestones for his/her age or you suspect a problem, go meet your doctor.
- Don’t accept a Wait- and – see approach
Get out of “Lets wait and see” attitude. You are risking valuable time at an age where your child has the best chance of improvement.
- Trust your instincts
You are the best. You know how to react. Sometimes even the best doctors will miss red flags or underestimate problems. Go with your gut. If it tells you that there is something wrong seek for second opinion or go meet a child development specialist.
Some children with autism start to develop communication skills and then regress, usually between 12-24 months. For Example, a child who communicated with words such as “mommy” “up”, may stop using the language entirely. Any loss of speech, babbling, gestures or social skills should be taken very seriously as regression is a major red flag for autism.
The earliest signs of autism involve the absence of normal behavior and not the presence of abnormal ones. So they can be tough to spot. In some cases, quiet, independent and undemanding babies can be autism victims. Don’t panic now, keep a track on their milestones.
Early signs of Autism in babies/toddlers
- Doesn’t make eye contact
- Doesn’t smile when smiled at
- Doesn’t respond to his/ her name or to the sound of familiar voices
- Doesn’t follow objects visually
- Doesn’t point or wave goodbye
- Doesn’t follow the gesture when you point things out
- Doesn’t make noise to get your attention
- Doesn’t initiate or respond to cuddling
- Doesn’t imitate your movements and facial expressions
- Doesn’t reach out to be picked up
- Doesn’t play with other people or share interest and enjoyment
- Doesn’t ask for help or make basic requests
Following delays warrant an immediate evaluation by your child’s pediatrician:
- By 6 months: No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions
- By 9 months:No back and forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions
- By 12 months:Lack of response to name
- By 12 months: No babbling or “baby talk”
- By 12 months:No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving
- By 16 months: No spoken words
- By 24 months:No meaningful two-word phrases that don’t involve imitating or repeating
People with autism deserve to be treated the same as others. They should be privileged to have the same education as others. Your approach to autism will ease a mother’s worry, a parent’s fear of being a misfit in society or feeling marginalized.