As many of you know, April is a special month where we raise awareness and acceptance for Autism. It is a great time to celebrate the uniqueness of those on the spectrum as well as share red flags of autism to help with early identification of this common, yet still highly misunderstood developmental disorder.
According to the CDC, Autism now affects 1 in 54 children in the United States, this developmental disorder affects all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Early intervention plays a critical role in the development of speech-language and other important skills that most children with Autism are lacking or delayed in. Research shows that children who receive early treatment have better results than when parents acted later (CDC). In other words, the earlier that a child is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and receives some type of treatment (speech therapy, occupational therapy, applied behavior analysis), the better the outcomes are for the child.
Parents should be aware of the signs to look out for and speak with their pediatrician immediately should they have concerns about Autism or any area of development.
Common Red Flags of Autism (CDC):
- Not responding to their name by 12 months of age
- Not pointing at objects to show interest (such as pointing to an animal while on a neighborhood walk or at a train going by) by 14 months
- Not engaging in pretend play (such as pretending to “feed” a doll) by 18 months
- Engaging in limited play, such as repetitively lining up items or becoming fixated by visually spinning parts of objects, such as the wheels on cars.
- Avoiding eye contact or preferring to be alone
- Having trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
- Have delayed speech and language skills
- Repeating words or phrases over and over (Echolalia: repeating back what is spoken to them or Scripting: repeating words or phrases often heard in commercials or movies and may or may not be relevant to the situation)
- Difficulty with changes in routines (tantrums when the schedule is out of order- thrives on predictability)
- Having limited interests (maybe hyper-focused on dinosaurs, trains, etc)
- Engages in self-stimulatory behaviors, such as hand flapping, rocking back and forth, or spinning in circles
- Sensitivities to different sensory input- touch, sound, taste, smell, or sight (covers ears to loud sounds, gags or refuses certain foods, bothered by tight-fitting clothing, or excessively complains that tags are itchy)
As a parent, you should trust your gut feeling. If you feel that something is not on track with your child’s development, speak with your pediatrician immediately so that they can help.
For more information regarding developmental milestones for ages 1-6, check out our FREE developmental checklist at https://chatterboxpeds.developmentchecklist.com/
Information obtained from: