Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April is Autism Awareness Month

Pam Lefebvre, RN
The goal of Autism awareness month is to educate as many people as possible about signs of Autism. Through my previous work in the Early Intervention Program, I know that early diagnosis combined with intensive therapy leads to the most promising outcomes.  Parents I worked with, noticed positive changes in their child’s development, and I personally witnessed the changes myself.  When Autism is diagnosed early, children and families can get the resources, training, and support they need to help them prepare for the future. 

What is Autism?Autism, also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that is often diagnosed in early childhood.  People with ASD communicate, learn, behave, and interact with their surroundings differently.  No two people with ASD are the same which can result in a misunderstanding of ASD.  Signs of ASD begin early in childhood and usually last throughout a person’s life. 

What causes ASD?We don’t know exactly what causes autism, but research indicates that a combination of genetics and environmental factors are contributing factors.

What are some signs of ASD in a child?
·        Delay or absence of words
·        Loss of words or skills they once had
·        Avoids eye contact and prefers to be alone
·        Not responsive to others’ facial expressions or feelings
·        May be interested in people, but doesn’t know how to talk, play, or relate to them
·        Unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound
·        Rejects being held cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to
·        Does not point to objects to show interest
·        Repeats actions over and over again
·        Difficulty with changes in routine

What can I do if I think my child has ASD?Talk to your child’s doctor if you are concerned about the way your child plays, learns, speaks, or acts. If your child is under 3 years, contact us at Early Intervention Program at 565-4848 to make a referral for a developmental evaluation or schedule a free developmental screening.  For more information check out our website http://www.clintonhealth.org/specialneeds
For more detailed information about developmental milestones visit   https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/