One in 88 children will be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder each year in the United States – a sobering number of children dealing with a disorder that can range from a mild set of symptoms to the severe, all of which involve the child’s impaired ability to interact and communicate well with others.
What is autism? According to Autism Speaks:
Â Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.
- No smiling or expressions of joy by 6 months
- No joyful, back-and-forth interactions by 9 months
- No babbling by 12 months, talking by 16 months or 2 word phrases by 24 months – although this in isolation may not be an indicator.
- Regression in speech at any age
- Communication through gestures such as waving, pointing, reaching, or showing by 12 months.
Helpful Resources for Parents:
Autism Speaks is a fantastic resource for parents, as is First Signs. Not only do they offer parents information, but they offer actionable materials to help you get through this life-long journey. For example, Autism Speaks offers aÂ 100 day kit for parents of newly diagnosed children, and First Signs offers a comprehensive list of educational articles that will help empower and inform you as you continue moving forward advocating for your child.
Another fantastic resource from Autism Speaks is this piece titledÂ 10 Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You KnewÂ which gives you a unique perspective into the mind of a child with autism.
The most important thing to know about Autism, or any developmental or medical scenario regarding your child, is that you are their best advocate. Education is a form of empowerment on your part and will allow you to step into your child’s pediatrician’s office with the tools you need to seek out services which, in turn, will give you the results that will serve them best.
It can seem overwhelming to tackle potential life-long challenges, but it’s far better to tackle them head-on while your child is young and interventions will make the biggest difference, than to bury your head in the sand in the hopes that they will just “grow out of it.”
You and your child can see these challenges through, one step at a time. You are more resilient than you think, and the above resources are a great place to start.