Autism Awareness and Acceptance Leads to Better Outcomes for Children
April is Autism Awareness Month. Throughout the month, many organizations, providers, and parents focus efforts on spreading autism awareness, acceptance and valuable information. This month, Touchstone ABA is sharing the following information to help parents and caregivers on three important topics:
- Early signs and possible indicators of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified “red flags” or possible early indicators that a child may be demonstrating characteristics of ASD. Some of these are:
- Not responding to their name by 12 months of age
- Not pointing at objects to show interest (e.g., pointing at an airplane flying over) by 14 months
- Not playing “pretend” games (e.g., pretend to “feed” a doll) by 18 months
- Avoiding eye contact and wanting to be alone
- Having trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
- Having delayed speech and language skills
- Repeating words or phrases over and over, which is called echolalia
- Giving unrelated answers to questions
- Getting upset by minor changes in the environment or in their routine
- Having obsessive interests
- Flapping their hands, rocking their body, or spinning in circles
- Having unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look or feel
The CDC’s “Learn the Signs. Act Early” is a free resource to help families monitor developmental milestones and recognize signs of developmental concerns, including ASD. Children as young as six months old may have observable signs of ASD, however, a diagnosis may not be given until at least 18 months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all 18 to 24-month-old children be screened for autism, but in reality, the average age of an autism diagnosis is reportedly around four years of age.
- Finding suitable providers for a professional autism diagnosis
If you have concerns or a health care provider expresses concerns about your child’s development, don’t wait; seek out an expert experienced in diagnosing ASD. Healthcare professionals that assess for and diagnose ASD include child and adolescent psychiatrists, psychologists, developmental pediatricians, and pediatric neurologists.
When searching for a professional, it’s important to ask if the provider has extensive experience in diagnosing ASD. Once the diagnostic evaluation is complete, you will receive a report detailing the assessments that were conducted, how your child scored, summaries of medical information and a diagnosis, if warranted.
- Next steps after an autism diagnosis
If your child receives an autism diagnosis, all of the available options for therapy may be overwhelming. There is one intervention, applied behavior analysis (ABA), that is considered the gold standard of treatment to improve the lives of persons with ASD. ABA is recommended as the treatment of choice by many medical and scientific organizations. ABA is based on the science of behavior and learning and has more than 70 years of substantiated research to support its effectiveness in teaching new behaviors and reducing challenging behaviors. For more information on the scientific effectiveness of ABA, visit asatonline.org.
Touchstone ABA provides research-driven applied behavior analysis services. Clients include children and adults diagnosed with autism, as well as individuals with learning and language differences and other behavioral challenges. Touchstone provides services in Thibodaux, Houma, New Orleans, Hammond, Baton Rouge and Lafayette. For more information on Touchstone’s services, call (985) 446-6833, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.touchstoneaba.com. You can also follow Touchstone on Facebook.