Monday, August 27, 2012

What Are the Signs Of Autism (our story)

Cases of autism are on the rise. Now, 1 in 88 children are diagnosed with autism. When little bear was diagnosed in 2009 the number was 1 in 110. Research has yet to figure out why the numbers are increasing so quickly. The good news is that many doctors and parents are more aware of the signs, and are taking advantage of the great services out there for children and adults on the autism spectrum.

What are the signs? This can be tricky because the red flags of autism vary from person to person. Many of them are developmental delays. According to Autism Speaks here are a few red flags to look out for.

- no smiles by age 6 months and thereafter
-no babbling by 12 months
-no pointing or waving by 12 months
-no words by 16 months
-no meaningful 2 word phrases by 24 months
-any loss of verbal and/or social skills at any age

If your child has any of these red flags, it does not necessarily mean they are autistic. It simply means you may want to bring it up to your doctor for evaluation. I can't stress enough (as a mother of an autistic child) that finding out early is very important! The earlier you can access services for your child, the brighter their future will be.

Our son was diagnosed when he was 2 years old. He had always been behind developmentally. He was able to sit up at 11 months and started walking at 21 months. When I would mention this to doctors, they would just say that he'll get there when he's ready. Honestly, that is what I wanted to hear, even though my gut was telling me something wasn't quite right.

When he went in for his 2 year check up he was, for the most part, non-verbal. This is when our doctor ( a new one due to a recent move) decided to send him to a psychologist for an evaluation. The evaluation confirmed our suspicion that our son was autistic.

There are varying degrees of autism. All are considered to be an autism spectrum disorder, but they vary from mild to severe. The autism spectrum disorders currently consists of autism disorder (classic autism), asperger syndrome, and Pervasive Development not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).

Our son was diagnosed with autism disorder. He has come such a long way since that diagnosis. We immediately enrolled him in early intervention. They worked with him 2 to 3 times a week in our home (helping us reach goals) until he was 3 years old. When he was three he entered preschool. We also had him involved in ABA therapy when he was 3. He went from being non verbal to speaking more and more each day! It was so exciting. There are no words that can describe how exciting it is for parents of autistic children when they reach new milestones. Our little guy just started kindergarten and is learning at the same level as his peers! We are so thrilled!

Hopefully someday research will solve the mystery of autism. I hope we can find a way to prevent it. Until then, we need to just embrace it. I love the unique ways of our son. He is such an incredible person. Anyone who meets him loves him. I personally think he makes the world a brighter place :)

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