I've been Grilled

Monday, September 12, 2011

Autism

Many parents wonder if their child could have autism. They wonder if their child is growing both physically, mentally, and socially at the “correct pace.”

In addition, many parents, when they discuss their concerns with their pediatrician, are told to just wait and see what happens. But, many experts believe that if you have a suspicion that something might be wrong that you should have them checked out through tests and screenings. If a child is screened by a specialist and they find no justifiable concerns, then parents can rest at ease knowing that their child is developing at an appropriate pace. If there is a detectable concern, parents are able to find out early enough to get early intervention and the proper care for their child.

Mayo Clinic’s health information states, “Children with autism generally have problems in three crucial areas of development — social interaction, language and behavior. But because autism symptoms vary greatly, two children with the same diagnosis may act quite differently and have strikingly different skills. In most cases, though, severe autism is marked by a complete inability to communicate or interact with other people.

Some children show signs of autism in early infancy. Other children may develop normally for the first few months or years of life but then suddenly become withdrawn, become aggressive or lose language skills they've already acquired. Though each child with autism is likely to have a unique pattern of behavior, these are some common autism symptoms.”

The Mayo Clinic continues to clarify the symptoms of autism as follows:

Social skills
Fails to respond to his or her name
Has poor eye contact
Appears not to hear you at times
Resists cuddling and holding
Appears unaware of others' feelings
Seems to prefer playing alone — retreats into his or her "own world"

Language
Starts talking later than age 2, and has other developmental delays by 30 months
Loses previously acquired ability to say words or sentences
Doesn't make eye contact when making requests
Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm — may use a singsong voice or robot-like speech
Can't start a conversation or keep one going
May repeat words or phrases verbatim, but doesn't understand how to use them

Behavior
Performs repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning or hand-flapping
Develops specific routines or rituals
Becomes disturbed at the slightest change in routines or rituals
Moves constantly
May be fascinated by parts of an object, such as the spinning wheels of a toy car
May be unusually sensitive to light, sound and touch and yet oblivious to pain

With all these symptoms, it is important to understand that some of them may be seen in children whose development is normal.

Nancy D. Wiseman, founder and President of First Signs, discusses why early detection matters and why helping your child early in life can produce better results long term for a child. In her book, Could it be Autism?, Wiseman provides checklists and the steps you can take to either “confirm or rule out a developmental delay or disorder.”

If you are concerned about autism in someone you know, there is a lot of excellent reading material available to you. Please check these resources to help you or someone you love in their journey to make sense out of autism.

Brill, Marlene. Autism. New York : Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2008.

“Autism.” Mayo Clinic. Website.

Teitelbaum, Osnat and Philip Teitelbaum. Does your Baby have Autism? Garden City Park, NJ: Square One, 2008.

Veague, Heather. Autism. New York : Chelsea House, 2010.

Wiseman, Nancy. Could it be Autism? New York:Broadway Books, 2006.

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