April is Autism Awareness Month!
Autism Spectrum Disorder, commonly referred to as ASD, is a developmental disability that is characterized by social, communication, and behavioral challenges. The current statistics on the prevalence of ASD is 1 in 68 children, with boys being at higher risk (1 in 42) than girls (1 in 89). Although Autism cannot be "cured", early intervention has been shown to be critical in helping children with ASD reach their full potential. The Center for Disease Control recommends that doctors screen all children for developmental disabilities at 9 month, 18 month, and 24-30 month well-child check-ups. In addition, the CDC recommends that screening specifically for Autism should occur during the 18 and 24 month visits.
What can parents watch for? With children 2 years and under, look for lack of eye contact and smiling when you interact with your child. Also be alert for lack of any functional communication (pointing, gesturing, attempting to engage adult in cooperative activities.)
For children over 2 years old, watch for a decrease in previously learned words and utterances, unusual or repetitive toy play, spinning and or rocking, and difficulty in understanding social interaction and safety rules.
If you have concerns about your child's development in any area, you may contact the local First Steps agency for children under 3, or contact our Cooperative for children 3 years and older. We will be happy to provide you with information and resources for getting the supports that your child needs.