Times Have Changed
Back in the day, if a child was diagnosed with autism there was little to no help available. Children were left to work independently and parents were left to pay extensively for private tutoring and assistance-often without results. Autism organizations were not around to provide assistance for autistic children so that they could find a way to live somewhat normal lives. In fact, just over a decade ago, autism was considered a learning disability and often children were poorly diagnosed.
Today, autism is a growing concern and is also becoming more popular in research. More parents are aware of what autism is, and there are organizations to help educate and provide financial assistance to parents of autistic children.
Early detection is key in helping a child with autism live a more normal life in society. Since autism can be seen as early as eighteen months of age, children should be watched throughout their development for any warning signs of autism. High-risk groups, such as children with siblings diagnosed with autism, should be watched even more closely by physicians and parents alike.
Warning signs of autism include:
• Not engaging in pretend play, not making eye contact, not liking to be held or cuddled, not understanding typical emotions or relating to their own feelings, not handling change well, and not relating to others
• Repeating actions over and over, and repeating words that are said to them
• Having unusual reactions to everyday things
• Rarely responding to their own name
Why Early Intervention Is Imperative
Research has shown that early intervention can improve a child's overall development. Children who receive autism-appropriate education and support at key developmental stages are more likely to gain essential social skills and react better in society. Essentially, early detection can provide an autistic child with the potential for a better life. Parents of autistic children can learn early on how to help their child improve mentally, emotionally, and physically throughout the developmental stages with assistance from specialists and organizations.
Lastly, catching autism and working through it early also benefits parental relationships. The strain of caring for an autistic child can be an everyday challenge, but with early preparation and intervention, parents can prepare themselves for the road ahead emotionally and mentally.
Michael Slutsky is the director of myASDF, a charity that supports children with autism spectrum disorders by providing education, information, and financial assistance to their families and relevant community service organizations. Visit http://www.myASDF.org or call 877.806.0635 for more information and to see how you can help.