Thursday, September 1, 2011

Is Your Toddler Diagnosed Autistic?

Autism, High functioning Autism, Asperger Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Non Specific (PDDNOS) Which autism spectrum diagnosis has your child received?

I understand this is a very anxious time for you. You've found out your child has Autism, a developmental disorder which until recently you may never have even heard of. I know too, that like many other parents that when he was much younger, you felt something was wrong, but no-one would listen to you. They said you were over-anxious or a new parent and told you to wait and see. Well you waited, and this is how it turned out!

There is no blood test for Autism, no MRI scan. Diagnosis is through observation and parent interview using DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).

A diagnosis of autistic disorder is given when an individual displays 6 or more of 12 symptoms listed across three major areas

  • social interaction
  • communication
  • stereotypical behaviour
When a child display similar behaviours but does not fully meet the specific criteria for autism, they may receive a diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder-NOS (PDD not otherwise specified).

Back in 2003 Ned Bachelder, the father of an autistic son wrote this:

'I'm not going to claim that having an autistic child is a wonderful, life-affirming experience, that every day is a new beginning, that it makes me feel more alive. On the whole, it is a wearying, grinding, frustrating experience. It means constantly re-evaluating possibilities, (usually) lowering expectations, and planning for the worst.'

I hope it doesn't have to be like that for much longer. Autism is diagnosed earlier now, thanks to increased public awareness by parents like Ned and amazing charities set up to fight for the cause. It may be no consolation for you however to have become part of the statistics of 1 in 110 children who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Especially when scientists appear no nearer to finding a cure.

Now you have your diagnosis, you have the answer to your question 'what is wrong with my child.' If not right now, then very soon you will likely be asking 'What can I do about it?'

Early intervention has been shown to be effective. Every child with autism is different, but often display delay in gross and fine motor skills, attention, speech and language, and self-help skills. Parents report an awkward gait, difficulty mastering stairs, and even a fear and hatred of cutlery as the child continues to finger feed into preschool years.

Many children on the autistic spectrum have problems with chewing and swallowing, are picky eaters and have a restricted diet due to their limited food preferences. They may have a high need for oral stimulation, chewing and mouthing objects long after their peers.

Early intervention does not have to break the bank There are a few simple things you can do right now with your child at home to promote gains for them in gross and fine motor skills, reduce 'stimming' behaviours and encourage communication.

Pauline Oliver

Pauline is a Specialist Teacher, Coach and NLP Master practitioner. She has worked in teaching and learning, with families of children with a wide range of 'special needs.' It doesn't matter that their needs were sorted into different medical diagnoses. What matters is that each child is unique. If you're prepared to work with your child for a short period each day then I'd love to work with you. To be part of the 'Autism Toddler Program' please contact me via my site.

Visit my website at to find out more.

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