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As a new mother, we become hyper aware of the need to track our child’s development. Our pediatricians may provide quality screeners at well child check ups which screen for developmental delay so more in-dept assessments can take place if needed. One example of an early childhood developmental screening tool is the Ages and Stages Questionnaire.
I want to take a moment to honor and encourage you to follow your gut instincts as well. Mothers know their babies and know when something feels “off” about their social, communication or behavioral skills. I want to explore what research has shown to be the warning signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in early childhood.
Why early detection is so important?:
“There is overwhelming evidence that earlier is better, both in terms of autism, diagnosis and intervention”(National Research Council NRC, 2001)
The first step in the providing quality intervention is first learning the warning sings or “Red Flags” of Autism so we can identify children as young as possible.
Here are the warning sings:
Has poor eye contact
Lacks sharing interest and enjoyment with others
Fails to Respond to his or her name
Appears disinterested in or unaware of others
Lacks gestures-pointing, reaching, waving showing
Doesn’t appear to understand simple questions or directions
Speaks in an abnormal tone of voice or with an odd rhythm
May repeat words or phrases exactly as heard but doesn’t understand how to use them
Repeats the same actions or movements over and over again
Develops specific routines and rituals and becomes upset at the slightest change
Is preoccupied with a narrow topic of interest.
Additional Resource: Check out the website First Signs for more information. Here is a link to the website: First Signs Website
“First Signs is dedicated to educating parents and professionals about autism and related disorders.”
To whom should a child be referred?
If you are seeing some of these warning signs, reach out to your child’s pediatrician. Some pediatricians will then refer families to a psychologist, developmental pediatrician, psychiatrist or neurologist for a full evaluation to determine if a child has ASD.
Reference: “Learners on the autism spectrum” edited by Kari Dunn Buron and Pamela Wolfberg
Autism awareness and acceptance in early childhood education. U.S. Dept. of health and Human Services