Understanding the Signs of Autism and How to Get Help
At first glance Rachel looks like any other 20-month-old child. Yet, if you spend a little time with her you will notice she isn’t doing many of the things other children her age are. The biggest concern for her parents is her lack of expression and communication. This has led them to seek help from Rachel’s pediatrician. Following an evaluation, she is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
According to the CDC, Autism is a developmental disability that can result in significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. It is estimated that 1 in 68 children have autism, which is a 30 percent increase over 2012 estimations. While it occurs in all races, it is 4.6 times more common in boys than girls. Another CDC report stated that in North Carolina, about 1 in 59 8-year-old children were identified with ASD in 2012.
Like Rachel, children with autism look perfectly normal. That’s why it is important for parents to understand the signs and know how to get help.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for ASD between the ages of 18-24 months. Despite the fact that ASD can be diagnosed early, half of all children were diagnosed after age 4. According to Autism Speaks, a red flag should be raised if your child exhibits any of the following signs.
Signs of Autism
- Doesn’t smile or show other signs of joy in her expressions by 6 months of age
- Doesn’t exhibit mirrored behaviors such as sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by 9 months
- Not pointing at objects of interest, reaching or waving by 12 months of age
- Doesn’t babble by 12 months
- No words spoken by 16 months
- Not speaking any meaningful, two word phrases by 24 months. This does not include imitating or repeating what others say
- Stops talking, babbling or their social skills diminish at any age
Early diagnosis has become increasingly important. Studies show improved outcomes when children receive early, consistent and appropriate intervention. If you are concerned your child may have autism, we are here to help. Schedule an appointment to see one of our pediatric providers by calling 910-486-5437 or visit us online.
There are many resources available for children with autism. Here are a few:
Autism Speaks has created a checklist to help parents determine if their toddler may have autism spectrum disorder. It can be found here.
North Carolina Infant-Toddler Program: http://www.beearly.nc.gov
Cumberland County Partnership for Children: https://ccpfc.org/business-directory/wpbdp_category/autism/page/2/