April is National Autism Awareness Month, a time to promote autism awareness and help those with the disorder improve their quality of life. The prevalence of autism in the US has risen from 1 in 125 children in 2010 to 1 in 54 children in 2020.
With autism affecting so many American families, the goal is to further increase awareness of the signs and symptoms of autism, as well as the opportunities for managing the disorder. Let’s cover the early signs of autism and what to do if your child is showing these signs.
What are the Early Signs of Autism?
Many children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show developmental differences early on, particularly with their social and language skills. These skills aren’t always obvious to parents because they’re more focused on physical skills like sitting up, crawling and walking. Children with ASD will usually do these things on time, so it’s important to watch for less obvious signs such as:
- Makes little or no eye contact
- Shows little or no response to facial expressions
- May not look at things that a parent is pointing to
- Not saying single words by 15 months or 2-word phrases by 24 months
- May not respond to their name being called
- Likes order, routines and rituals
- Rocks, spins, sways, walks on toes, etc.
- May not cry if in pain
- May not point, wave goodbye or use other gestures
What to Do if a Child Shows Early Signs of ASD?
If you have any concerns that your child might have ASD, the first thing to do is take them in for a screening. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children have screenings at 9, 18 and 30 months of age. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about where to get a full evaluation from a medical specialist.
If the autism screening does detect signs of autism, your child will be referred to a specialist for a more comprehensive evaluation. Screening tools are not diagnostic tools, which is why you’ll need to take things a step further. A specialist will conduct a number of tests to determine whether or not your child has autism.
The diagnostic portion for autism can take time, but you can take advantage of early intervention services as soon as your child has developmental delays. Early intervention is a federally funded program for infants and toddlers with disabilities. Ask your doctor to refer you to them. Even if your child doesn’t have autism, they can still benefit from these services.
Early Intervention Services at VNA Health
Early intervention is incredibly important for children with autism. In the end, early detection allows you to address the disorder and create a better life for your child. To learn more about the early intervention services available through VNA Health, contact us today.