If you suspect that your child may have autism, take action immediately. Time is of the essence as early intervention is a crucial factor in determining best outcomes.
Download these checklists and review them with your family physician or pediatrician:
See if your baby has head lag
Recent research indicates that infants who exhibit a head lag are at risk for autism, language and/or social development delays. Read more about this study and watch two YouTube videos with examples of typical head/neck movement and head lag at 6 months of age.
Get your child assessed by a qualified professional or team of professionals
Because autism cannot be diagnosed with a medical test, screening and diagnosis involves interviews, observation and evaluations.
These can include:
- Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association
- The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales
- The Scales of Independent Behavior
- Childhood Autism Rating Scale
Having trouble getting a referral?
If your family doctor says you’re worried unnecessarily, or recommends that you just wait it out, but your gut is telling you something’s just not right with your child… get a second opinion. If in doubt, always listen to that inner voice and take action.
If you are a caregiver, teacher, friend or relative…
Understandably, it can be extremely difficult and uncomfortable to suggest to a parent that his or her child could have autism. Complicating matters further is the uncertainty of the situation as most likely, you’d only have a suspicion, with no hard facts to back you up. That cannot, however, be a reason to keep quiet A child’s long-term health and wellbeing is at stake. If the child does have autism, early intervention is absolutely critical and it is the child’s right to have that opportunity in life that will never come again.
Here are some tips that may make it easier on the parent receiving the news
- Make sure that he or she doesn’t have to rush off anywhere immediately after your talk, so there is some time to digest the information and regain some composure before having to appear publicly
- Find a private place, so there is no need to be embarrassed by tears and the display of emotion
- Provide some reasoning behind your suspicion of autism. The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers could be helpful tool
- Be encouraging. Reaffirm what a wonderful parent s/he, and how you know that s/he will overcome any hurdles that may lie ahead
- Be optimistic. Talk about the many positive results that children with autism have demonstrated with early and ongoing intervention.
- Be supportive. Assure him/her that you are there to help however you can
- Provide suggestions for next steps (i.e. getting a proper assessment)
Go with your gut
If you suspect that your child could have Autism but are told by a professional to wait and see, get a second opinion. As a parent, you know your child best. Follow your instincts.
If you suspect Aspergers...
You must check out this resource-rich blog by Laura Shoemaker.