posted by: Katie Gorodetsky – WIC's Immunization Coordinator
Did you know that autism affects 1 in 88 children, particularly 1 in 54 boys? Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. ASDs are "spectrum disorders”, meaning they affect each person in different ways and can range from very mild to severe. ASDs begin before the age of 3 and last throughout a person's life, although symptoms may improve over time. Some children with an ASD show hints of future problems within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms might not show up until 24 months or later.
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.
If your child exhibits any of the following, please don’t delay in asking your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation:
- No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by 6 months or thereafter
- No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by 9 months
- No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
- No babbling by 12 months
- No words by 16 months
- No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
- Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age
For a comprehensive list of behavioral milestones at specific ages, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html.
Feeding disorders are often seen in infants and children with ASD. The most commonly reported feeding disorder is constipation. Nutritionists and occupational therapists can help to make sure that someone with ASD gets the best nutrition possible, so don’t hesitate to speak to your child’s doctor about getting additional services or asking for a referral to a nutritionist or Early Intervention Program. Early Intervention programs help children not only with nutrition but also with developmental skills they need to grow up healthy and happy.
If you have concerns about your child’s development, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/concerned.html or talk to your child’s doctor. Acting early can make a real difference.
For more information about autism spectrum disorders, please visit http://www.autismspeaks.org/.