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​Could your Baby Have Autism?

"Symptoms can be mild or more disabling..."

Your birth experience was normal, “uneventful”, as experts say. Your baby is absolutely adorable, and of course, very smart, just like you! But as he or she gets to be about nine months you begin to notice that something is amiss. Initially, it’s subtle. Maybe he makes minimal eye contact. Or possibly your baby doesn’t smile much. At first you laugh, that maybe he has that stoic personality like Grandpa Mike. But your baby just doesn’t seem playful and interactive like your same-age niece or your best friend’s toddler. And he’s quiet, not like the baby at the next table when your family is having dinner at a restaurant and that little fellow is babbling non-stop.

Could your baby have autism?

Formerly called Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) which includes Asperger’s Syndrome, affects approximately one out of sixty-eight children. Symptoms can be mild or more disabling and mainly impact social and language skills not gross or fine motor skills. Experts claim there is a genetic component to autism. Some parents insist that symptoms of autism are often noticed after the first dose of childhood immunizations, but medical research hasn’t documented that connection, otherwise immunizations would no longer be given or required.

How is autism diagnosed?

There is no test for ASD; diagnosis is based on observed and reported symptoms. Today, most pediatricians are knowledgeable of the developmental milestones of their young patients. When you take your little one in for check-ups, this is the time to ask your doctor if you intuitively suspect that something may be wrong with your baby. At nine months, early screenings can be done. As your child gets older, symptoms become easier to detect; you’ll notice a more obvious gap in the language and social skills of your child compared to others his or her age.

What is the treatment for autism?

Like many disorders that both children and adults have, the individual symptoms are addressed, specific to your child’s challenges; autism is managed rather than cured. Intervention can begin on children as soon as symptoms are recognized in birth-to-three programs, and continue into Pre-K programs and in school, as indicated. Occupational therapists (OTs) and Speech and Language Pathologists (SLP) are key professionals who can work with your child using play therapy techniques to facilitate more functional everyday skills.

At school, the interdisciplinary team (IDT) of experienced professionals of therapists and special education teachers work with parents to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) identifying specific problematic areas to address, measurable goals, and a details plan to achieve these goals.

How can parents learn more about autism?

There is a plethora of information on the internet regarding autism. Webmd.com offers sound information about ASD. Autismtherapies.com and myautism.org are sites that guide toward many resources including local ones. Join an autism support group for parents or start your own. Remember that your child with autism can develop into a successful adult; search online “Temple Grandin” to read about an American doctor with autism.

Editor's Note: This article is meant strictly for informational purposes. Please consult your doctor for understanding, diagnosing, and treating autism and autism-related illnesses.

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