Early detection of Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder is critical in helping a child overcome their difficulties.
The Centers for Disease Control says that one in 88 children in the U.S. is diagnosed as on the autism spectrum. An estimated 1 in 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States.
The disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.
Autism appears in the early stages of brain development. One of the most important things you can do as a parent or caregiver is to learn the early signs of autism and become familiar with typical developmental milestones that your child should be reaching.
The following "red flags" may indicate that a child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder, according to the group, Autism Speaks:
- No big smiles or other joyful expressions by six months of age
- No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
- No babbling by 12 months
- No back-and-forth waving, pointing or reaching by 12 months
- No words by 16 months
- Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age
Dr. Lorrie Bryant of Behavioral Pediatrics and Family Health in Lincoln says that if a parent or caregiver suspects that something is wrong, they should not delay in getting their child attention.
"If parents have a concern about their child's development in the speech and language area, in the way they play with toys, be persistent. If their pediatrician says, 'let's wait on it, let's wait and see', don't. That way they can get that early intervention," said Dr. Bryant.
Dr. Bryant says that if a child gets treatment and interventions early in life, they have the best shot at living a healthy life with a possibility of being independent. and living a productive life.