It’s understandable that one of the most searched phrases online in reference to Autism is, “Does my child have Autism?” because many parents and guardians just don’t know exactly what they are looking for. Maybe their child seems uninterested, makes less eye contact, communicates less than others in their peer group or something else that makes them just… not sure. And for many, they aren’t sure what to do from there. That’s why this Autism Acceptance month we wanted to round up some of the most common facts about Autism as well as some of the best resources for you to use for at-home screening.
What is ASD?
ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder of the brain that can affect the way one communicates, learns, behaves and engages with others. While there are common signs and symptoms known to this complex neurodivergence, each individual with ASD has a unique experience and it should be noted that signs and symptoms vary greatly from person to person.
It’s crucial to have your child screened for Autism to find out if they are on the Autism Spectrum and get specialized care that works to develop skills such as behavioral, communication, sensory motor skills and more. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children receive developmental screening at 9, 18 and 30 months of age during well-care exams as well as at ages 18 and 24 months for Autism screening. If it’s not automatically done at your doctor visits, you can ask your pediatrician to do a developmental screening. Usually ASD is not diagnosed until at least age 2 so signs should be monitored at home as well.
What to Watch for at Home
Here are some of the general Autism screening criteria from the CDC to keep in mind as you monitor your child.
Children or adults with ASD might:
not point at objects to show interest (for example, not point at an airplane flying over)
not look at objects when another person points at them
have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all
avoid eye contact and want to be alone
have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
prefer not to be held or cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to
appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds
be very interested in people, but not know how to talk, play, or relate to them
repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of language
have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions
not play “pretend” games (for example, not pretend to “feed” a doll)
repeat actions over and over again
have trouble adapting when a routine changes
have unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound
lose skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using)
However, signs and symptoms beyond some of the most common ones listed above, are best tracked by developmental milestones and checking progress by age.
Tools for Milestone Tracking
To do that, the CDC has created a wonderful checklist for parents and guardians to keep track of their child’s developmental milestones at each age, which can be found here. They also have a convenient milestone tracker app for those that prefer to keep their checklists digital!
My Child Has Been Diagnosed
If your child receives an ASD diagnosis, enrolling them in a specialized care program that will holistically work with them to develop skills is strongly recommended. Schools can provide additional support through the establishment of an IEP or 504.
At Spectra Centers, we use the Interdisciplinary Intervention (or II) Model, which works differently than a lot of other care models. A wrap-around team of interdisciplinary professionals works with each student to develop a plan and work to meet goals.
Our staff meet regularly to discuss the needs of each student so that these ideas can be carried throughout all areas of learning and with each professional. This way, we are lockstep with each other in understanding and facilitating the care for every student and addressing needs no matter who they are working with! For instance, whether the student is working with our on-staff Speech Pathologist, our Occupational Therapists or someone else on the team, each professional knows the exact needs of each student and can work with them on their individual goals.
Are you or someone you know interested in learning more about enrolling a student at Spectra Centers? We’re happy to meet with you and answer any questions. Simply set up a one-on-one consultation with us or email us at email@example.com and someone will reach out to you soon!