Is it Autism? How to find out

Matt Davison

on April 22, 2015

Parents love to talk about their kids. They like to tell you about that cute, annoying, creative, rebellious, or down right mean thing their kid did just minutes ago.

“Let me tell you what Johnny did last week…”

“Suzie is at it again, this time…”

We all know and love them.

However, there is that one parent that you know whose stories are a little different.

“Jenny just turned 2 and still doesn’t know her name.”

“Bobby lines up cars in a row, all day if I’d let him.”

“Jimmy just wiggles his fingers and stares at the lights. Is that weird?”

These stories are sometimes cute, sometimes confusing, maybe a little alarming. Something just isn’t quite right.

This does not mean that every child who acts differently automatically has autism; however, it can be a clue.  If you suspect your child might have autism, it is recommended to do the following:

  1. Get informed. Check out the CDC’s website for early warning signs. Also, you can download the free First Concern to Action Tool Kit from Autism Speaks.
  2. Get screened. Make sure your child goes to each of their well-child visits with their pediatrician. He or she can use a screening tool, like the Modified Checklist of Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) to see if there is cause for concern.  Your pediatrician may tell you there is nothing to worry about, or refer you to a specialist for further testing.
  3. Get help.  If your child is diagnosed with autism, the free 100 Day Kit from Autism Speaks may be helpful. It provides a lot of useful information for the road ahead.

There are a myriad of services available to help families of children with special needs.  If your child is under the age of 3, contact your local Early Intervention agency (EI). If your child is age 3-22, contact the Special Education department of your local school district. Depending on your individual child’s needs, it may be recommended that they receive one or more of the following evidence-based services:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy (ABA)
  • Speech Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy (OT)
  • Physical Therapy (PT)

A multi-disciplinary approach is best. You are the primary advocate for your child. If you have many different service providers, make sure they are all on the same page and working together! It takes a village to raise a child.

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