Autism Awareness - Know the Signs
Each year, the month of April has been designated as Autism Awareness Month, with April 2 specifically designated as World Autism Awareness Day. Each year, individuals and organizations worldwide participate in campaigns to raise awareness of the challenges faced by individuals with autism and to raise funds for better research and treatment of this pervasive condition.
This special day is also a great opportunity to encourage parents to learn more about this condition and to be on the lookout for signs in young children. The earlier that the disorder is caught, the earlier intervention can be started. Earlier intervention does seem to be associated with better outcomes in the long run, so early detection is key.
To aid parents and professionals in better recognizing the signs and symptoms of autism, Dr. Rebecca Landa, Director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, has created this informative video showing common signs of autism spectrum disorders in young toddlers. The video compares behaviors seen in typically developing children to those seen in children with autism spectrum disorders. It's a great watch to get a feel for what the differences between children with autism spectrum disorder and neurotypical children really look like.
If you have concerns about your child's development, speak with your child's pediatrician about your observations. I often tell parents to trust their gut - if you have concerns, have them evaluated. And, if you feel that your pediatrician is not able to give you a satisfactory answer, look for a second opinion. Child psychologists and therapists can also be excellent resources for evaluating your concerns and helping you figure out a plan of action. If you are in California and suspect that your child may have an autism spectrum disorder, you may also contact your local Regional Center for a free evaluation.
For more information on autism spectrum disorders, check out these resources I have developed over the past few years:
Autism and Early Warning Signs - guest post on the Pediatric Tidbits with Dr. Mac blog detailing what autism is and how to recognize the early warning signs.
Autism Warning Signs - post here on this website about the earliest warning signs seen in children who develop autism spectrum disorders.
Top Web Resources for ASD - post from this website detailing the best places to search online for more information about autism and related conditions.