Over the last decade, Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has steadily gained more mainstream attention. Perhaps the rise in awareness is due to the following statistic: Autism now affects one in 68 children, with boys four times more likely than girls to have autism.
Autism is a neurological developmental disability that typically appears before the age of three. It is a very complex disability that can affect an individual’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Though there is no known cause of autism, increased awareness and early detection leads to improved outcomes.
Early Detection is Key
Autism is treatable but not curable. One of the most important things you can do as a caregiver is to recognize the red flags or signs, as early diagnosis leads to significantly better results. Studies have shown that an early, intensive treatment plan improves communication, learning and social skills.
Signs to look for in children:
- Lack or delay of speech
- Lack of eye contact
- Fixation on particular objects
- No smiling by six months of age
- Seem to be in his or her own world
- Have difficultly with simple commands
What to do if you think your child has autism
Every person with autism is unique. Because the effects of autism vary immensely, individuals with ASD are often considered to be “on the spectrum”. If you believe your child is exhibiting signs of autism, the most important step is to make an appointment to get a diagnosis. If your child is indeed diagnosed with ASD, educate yourself about the disorder and what services are available in your area. Children with autism can be eligible for early intervention and special education services starting at three years of age. Surround yourself and your family with the support of doctors, therapists, and educators that understand ASD and its unique challenges.