On MSN, a mother shared her story. She has a child that has been diagnosed with autism. Yet; she ignored some of the warning signs and wants others to not make the same mistake.
“My son was 6 years old when we started the process of getting his autism assessment. He was almost 7 when it was completed. He’s 7 now and in second-grade. He doesn’t have all of the common signs of autism, so he was diagnosed late. He never received early intervention services, he was too old for that. We are waiting now for support through the school-age autism program. But, after we knew of his diagnosis, I realized I missed many of the signs of autism. Looking back, I see they were there, and I want to share them with you. Remember, if your child does some (or all) of the things on this list, it doesn’t mean they have autism. This post is about my child. But, if you are a parent reading this and wondering about your own child, my advice is: always follow your gut. Voice your concerns to your child’s doctor. If I had followed my gut, we probably would have had an earlier diagnosis.”
“This is how my son showed signs of being on the autism spectrum: Even as an infant, my child got upset around strangers and large groups of people, had an over-reaction to smells, narrow areas of intense interest-repeated over and over, frequent ear infections, intense temper tantrums of having to have his own way, made up his own words, drank from his bottle for a really long time, and aversion to some tactile sensory experiences.”
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a complex set of conditions that affect more than 1% of children. They are characterised by difficulties in the core areas of social communication and language, accompanied by restricted and repetitive behaviours and interests.
Although largely genetically determined, we still do not understand all of the causes of ASDs.
There are currently no available cures. So the best evidence to date points to early identification and behavioural intervention as the best way to minimise the effects of these conditions on the developing child.
If behavioral intervention can be accessed as soon as there are early warning signs – before the onset of the “full-blown” syndrome – it’s possible to target the developmental precursors of ASDs. This improves the chances of the child moving toward a more typical developmental trajectory.
As a parent, you’re in the best position to spot the earliest warning signs of autism. You know your child better than anyone and observe behaviors and quirks that a pediatrician, in a quick fifteen-minute visit, might not have the chance to see. Your child’s pediatrician can be a valuable partner, but don’t discount the importance of your own observations and experience.
The key is to educate yourself so you know what’s normal and what’s not
- Monitor your child’s development. Autism involves a variety of developmental delays, so keeping a close eye on when—or if—your child is hitting the key social, emotional, and cognitive milestones is an effective way to spot the problem early on. While developmental delays don’t automatically point to autism, they may indicate a heightened risk.
- Take action if you’re concerned. Every child develops at a different pace, so you don’t need to panic if your child is a little late to talk or walk. When it comes to healthy development, there’s a wide range of “normal.” But if your child is not meeting the milestones for his or her age, or you suspect a problem, share your concerns with your child’s doctor immediately. Don’t wait.
- Don’t accept a wait-and-see approach. Many concerned parents are told, “Don’t worry” or “Wait and see.” But waiting is the worst thing you can do. You risk losing valuable time at an age where your child has the best chance for improvement. Furthermore, whether the delay is caused by autism or some other factor, developmentally delayed kids are unlikely to simply “grow out of” their problems. In order to develop skills in an area of delay, your child needs extra help and targeted treatment.
- Trust your instincts. Ideally, your child’s doctor will take your concerns seriously and perform a thorough evaluation for autism or other developmental delays. But sometimes, even well-meaning doctors miss red flags or underestimate problems. Listen to your gut if it’s telling you something is wrong, and be persistent. Schedule a follow-up appointment with the doctor, seek a second opinion, or ask for a referral to a child development specialist.
Ref: Helpguide.org, MSNlifestyle
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