Every April we celebrate World Autism Month beginning with United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. Autism-friendly events and educational activities take place throughout the month to increase understanding and acceptance and foster worldwide support.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.
ASD is characterized by core deficits in social-interactions, communication and repetitive behaviors. The symptoms and their severity vary widely across these 3 core areas for each individual diagnosed with ASD.
Indicators of autism usually appear by age 2 or 3. Some associated development delays can appear even earlier, and often, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Research shows that early intervention leads to positive outcomes later in life for people with autism.
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 the typical developmental milestones that your child should be reaching.
What are the signs of autism?
The timing and intensity of autism’s early signs vary widely. Some infants show hints in their first months. In others, behaviors become obvious as late as age 2 or 3.
Not all children with autism show all the signs. Many children who don’t have autism show a few. That’s why professional evaluation is crucial.
The following may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, ask your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation right away:
By 6 months
Few or no big smiles or other warm, joyful and engaging expressions
Limited or no eye contact
By 9 months
Little or no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions
By 12 months
Little or no babbling
Little or no back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving
Little or no response to name
By 16 months
Very few or no words
By 24 months
Very few or no meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating)
At any age
Loss of previously acquired speech, babbling or social skills
Avoidance of eye contact
Persistent preference for solitude
Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings
Delayed language development
Persistent repetition of words or phrases (echolalia)
Resistance to minor changes in routine or surroundings
Repetitive behaviors (flapping, rocking, spinning, etc.)
Unusual and intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colors
If you have concerns, get your child screened and contact your healthcare provider
The M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers ™) can help you determine if a professional should evaluate your child. This simple online autism screen, available on our website, takes only a few minutes. If the answers suggest your child has a high probability for autism, please consult with your child’s doctor. Likewise, if you have any other concerns about your child's development, don't wait. Speak to your doctor now about screening your child for autism.
A diagnosis of autism is an important turning point in a long journey to understand your child's world.
Every child or adult with autism has unique strengths and challenges, so there is no one size fits all approach to autism treatment and intervention. Each autism intervention or treatment plan should be tailored to address the person's specific needs.
Intervention can involve behavioral treatments, medicines or both. Many people with autism have additional medical conditions such as sleep disturbance, seizures and gastrointestinal (GI) distress. Addressing these conditions can improve attention, learning and related behaviors.
For nearly two decades, Behavioral Innovations has delivered the finest Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy available for early childhood intervention. They have centers in many cities across the state of Texas and Oklahoma and the programs are overseen by Board Certified Behavior Analysts with master’s degrees and several years of experience working with children.
By providing flexible scheduling options, small therapist to client ratios, and skilled staff, they are able to tailor programs to a child’s unique needs while providing the frequency, oversight, and quality care clients deserve and expect.
Their methodology is based on the science of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), which has a proven track record of producing meaningful, life long, developmental growth in the children served. The National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, the Surgeon General of the United States and The American Academy of Pediatrics all endorse ABA. Their programs include 1:1 and small group instruction as well as social skills development and functional communication. They also incorporate play skills, self-help skills and daily living skills.
Parent training is an essential element of what behavioral innovations offer and is available in all of the markets they serve. It’s necessary for parents to fully support the therapy they provide for children. They provide year-round training at locations throughout Texas so that parents know the best way to support the positive changes they are helping make with children.
For more information about autism and resources contact Behavioral Innovations by phone or email.
- Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) now affects 1 in 59 children.
- Autism is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the U.S.
- Many types of private health insurance are required to cover ABA services. This depends on what kind of insurance you have, and what state you live in.
- Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with autism.
- There is no medical detection or cure for autism.