Guide For Parents

2 minute read
AMY LENNARD GOEHNER

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

SIGNS OF AUTISM

(Usually apparent in toddlers; watch for a cluster of symptoms)

  • No pointing by one year
  • No babbling by one year; no single words by 16 months; no two-word phrases by 24 months
  • Any loss of language skills at any time
  • No pretend playing Little interest in making friends
  • Extremely short attention span
  • No response when called by name; indifference to others
  • Little or no eye contact
  • repetative body movements, such as hand flapping, rocking
  • Intense tantrums
  • Fixations on a single object, such as a spinning fan
  • Unusually strong resistance to changes in routine
  • Oversensitivity to certain sounds, textures or smells
  • SIGNS OF ASPERGER’S

    (Usually diagnosed at age six or over)

  • Difficulty making friends
  • Difficulty reading or communicating through nonverbal social cues, such as facial expressions
  • No understanding that others have feelings different from his or her own
  • Obsessive focus on a narrow interest, such as reciting train schedules
  • Awkward motor skills
  • Inflexibilty about routines, especially when changes occur spontaneously
  • Mechanical, almost robotic patterns of speech
  • (Even “normal” children exhibit some of these behaviors from time to time. The symptoms of autism and Asperger’s, by contrast, are persistent and debilitating)

    WHERE TO START

  • EARLY SIGNS: One of the commonest descriptions of babies that might be autistic is that they are very good. They are very passive, very quiet, it’s almost like not having a baby in the house. There is a minority who scream all the time without stopping and cannot be comforted, but that is a very much smaller group.
  • GET AN EVALUATION: Take your child to a developmental pediatrician with expertise in autism or Asperger syndrome. The pediatrician will evaluate your child with a team of specialists (speech therapists, occupational therapists, behaviour therapists) to determine the areas in which your child needs help.
  • HOW TO TREAT IT

    There is no cure for autism, but there are many treatments that can make a difference:

  • SPEECH THERAPY: Can overcome communication and language barriers
  • OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY: Helps with sensory integration and motor skills
  • BEHAVIORAL THERAPY: Improves cognetive skills and reduces inappropriate behaviour
  • EDUCATIONAL THERAPY: A highly structured approach works best
  • MEDICATION: Can reduce some symptoms
  • SPECIAL DIETS: Eliminating certain food groups, such as dairy, helps some children
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