You may have seen the stickers or license plates that look like puzzle pieces. Those are called Autism Awareness Puzzles and the purpose is to encourage the community to learn more about autism and show support.
Autism prevalence is now one in every 88 children in America.
There is no known single cause for autism, but various researchers have their theories… Some believe autism has genetic causes, some believe it is various substances a mother may take in during pregnancy and some believe there are environmental factors that play a part in the risk.
The characteristic behaviors of autism spectrum disorders may or may not be apparent in infancy (18 to 24 months), but usually become obvious during early childhood (24 months to 6 years).
As part of a well-baby/well-child visit, your child's doctor should do a "developmental screening," asking specific questions about your baby's progress.
The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) lists five behaviors that signal further evaluation is warranted if your baby:
— Does not babble or coo by 12 months
— Does not gesture (point, wave, grasp) by 12 months
— Does not say single words by 16 months
— Does not say two-word phrases on his or her own by 24 months
— Has any loss of any language or social skill at any age
Having any of these five "red flags" does not mean your child has autism. But because the symptoms of the disorder vary so much, a child showing these behaviors should have further evaluations by a multidisciplinary team. This team may include a neurologist, psychologist, developmental pediatrician, speech/language therapist, learning consultant or other professionals knowledgeable about autism.
Here are some other signs to look for in the children in your life:
— Lack of or delay in spoken language
— Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects)
— Little or no eye contact
— Lack of interest in peer relationships
— Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
— Persistent fixation on parts of objects
This information was gathered from http://www.autism-society.org/ and you can also talk with your child’s doctor for any further information.
Clark County Health Department offers community education programs for parents and teens. For more information, contact the Health Department at 744-4482 or at www.clarkhealthdept.org. Join us on Facebook.