Does My Child Have Autism? Advice from a Board Certified Behavior Analyst

October 12, 2011, TBH Blog
TBH Blog

Advice for Parents Who Think Their Child May Be Showing Signs of Autism.

What To Do When You See Signs of Autism

To help parents navigate situations that many faced early in their child’s life, Catherine Bladow, MS, BCBA offers parents who think their child may be showing signs of autism the following three recommendations:

Look for “Red Flags”

These signs and symptoms of autism may indicate that screening for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is needed:

  • Lack of typical eye gaze, no reciprocal play or communication. For example, the child won’t participate in a back-and-forth exchange with a parent who is playing with sounds or looking toward objects.
  • Limited excitement sharing. Children at risk for ASDs typically don’t point to objects or show objects to others as a means of sharing their excitement.
  • Lack of responsiveness. At first, parents may think their child has a hearing problem because he or she doesn’t respond when his or her name is called.
  • Lack of communication. A child who displays no babbling or little to no words by 16 months and no meaningful two-word utterances by age 2 may be at risk for an ASD. Children who suddenly stop speaking may similarly be at risk.

Catherine is a Senior Consultant and an experienced Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She provides Ft. Collins autism treatment and therapy for other developmental delays. She emphasizes the importance of perseverance while navigating diagnosis, “Don’t give up just because one physician does not have the answer. Sometimes it takes a few appointments and being your child’s advocate to insist that your concerns are fully answered.”

She also recommends staying vigilant for new signs and symptoms of autism. Children with autism may need to see a number of different specialists to address these symptoms. “It can be like the layers of an onion; as one issue is addressed, others seem to pop up,” she explains.

Catherine also recommends having a good support team in place that can offer specialist recommendations as new symptoms arise.

Know that autism in children may become apparent at different ages and developmental stages.
Some parents may know from birth that their child is different, other parents may notice typical development for the first two years and then start to see developmental delays as their child becomes a toddler. Children with symptoms of Aspergers syndrome, a form of autism, may not be diagnosed until they’re older because their communication skills follow a typical developmental pattern.

Intervene early.
Seek professional assistance if you have any concerns about your child’s development. Research indicates that early intervention is critically important in minimizing developmental delays and decreasing the likelihood that severe problem behaviors will develop.

Trust your instincts. The earlier intervention can begin, the better.

If you believe your child is showing signs of autism, seek input from your pediatrician or a specialist and ask for a screening. Use specific examples when describing your concerns. For example: “my child isn’t using words to communicate,” or “my child doesn’t respond when I call his or her name.”

For parents entering this process for the first time, Catherine Bladow offers one more piece of advice: “Take care of yourself. If you’re not mentally healthy; if you’re stressed out, you can’t take care of your child.”

Trumpet Behavioral Health serves as a valuable resource related to autism education for parents. Specializing in the treatment of children and adults with ASDs and developmental disabilities, Trumpet Behavioral Health in Ft. Collins specializes in autism treatment in Colorado, as well as Arizona, California, Hawaii, Missouri, Ohio, and Wyoming. Trumpet Behavioral Health offers behavioral consulting, education and training for parents, educators and healthcare professionals. Find a location near you or learn more about Trumpet Behavioral Health’s online resources.

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