April is Autism awareness month. Autism is a developmental disorder where a child develops problems with social skills, delayed speech, repetative behavior. Usually the child develops these probems and diagnosed before the age of three.
What are the signs and symptoms of Autism?
1. the baby does not smile by six months
2. Does not babble, attempt or interact with parents, family members
3. by 12 months they do not respond to their name
4. no eye contact
5. Do not point to objects
6. delayed speech
7. no interest in other people they want to be alone
8. show behaviors like rocking, hand flapping, spinning obsessive behaviors
9. Not being able to be comforted after a tantrum
10. sensative to sound, smell, touch
How is a child diagnosed with autism?
The pediatrician usually gives the diagnosis of autism based on childs behavior and milestones they have achieved or missed.
When parents bring their child in for well visits.
The pediatrician will ask the parent or caregiver about the baby's behavior, emotions, language and movement.
A well visit is when the baby visits the pediatrician for a full check-up to make sure that the baby is healthy and developing normal.
The first well visit is at birth.
The next one is 3-5 days after birth
Behavior screening usually starts at Nine months. It continues at 18 months and 30 months. These screenings are usually a questionnaire or checklist on milestones the infant has achieved or missed. The checklist is monitored by the pediatrician.
The CDC recommends that a infant should have an autism screening at 18 months, 24 months or if a baby demonstrates a behavioral or developmental delays.
Usually a child may be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder before the age of three. But a child can be diagnosed after three years old, during their adolescent years and even when they become adults.
What happens if your child is diagnosed with autism?
What happens next?
If your child is below three years old many states offer an early intervention programs where they offer speech, occupational therapies and other support services.They also offer Aba. ABA is Applied behavioral Analysis which is is a therapy that is based on behavior and learning. This therapy that tries to correct bad or harmful behaviors and replace them with good behaviors.
If your child is ready for prek or kindergarten and will attend a public school, then they will get an IEP.
An IEP is a written document for children who will attend public school and will be placed in special education. It provides services and supports for the child that is written and the school must honor.
What lifestyle problems do children with autism have?
Many children on the spectrum have difficulty with focus, attention and learning. The majority of ASD Children are placed in special education classes with ieps where they have services and supports to help them.
They have problem transitioning from one activity to another without having a meltdown.
It hard for these children to do something new because they are so focused on routine.
What helps is to prepare them by letting them know that they will be doing something different today. If all goes well even tempt them with a treat or small gift for their good behavior.
The stress for the parents and family. Having a child on the spectrum is challenging. Eapecially if there are siblings involved. The stress can be physical emotional and financial.
Many parents feel their income suffer because usually one has to stay at home to watch the child, take them to appointments, therapies ect..
Safety is a major issue for children with autism. Many children elope or run away, bang their heads or bite themselves or other people. This can cause many parents distress because they may feel that they cannot take them anywhere or travel with them without an incident occuring.
Many children experience sensory issues. Many experience with temperature, sounds, crowds, sensitivity to certain foods and textures, bright colors.
An occupational therapists can help with creating a plan in how to mange sensory sensitivities. An optometrist can help with a child that have problems with vision. A dietician for food or eating problems.
what about clothes?
Many autistics have issues with clothing. There are clothing that irritates them or scratches them. So selecting the right fabric is so important. Fleece or soft natural fibers is often preferred.
Clothes that have a pressure feel is also preferred by them. Like vests and coats that are close to their bodies.But not all. There are some that do not like tight clothes because they feel it is restrictive.
Many autistics are not huge fans of labels. They do not like the feel on their skin. Many clothing companies are now creating tagless labels on their clothes.
Jogging pants. The preferred piece of clothing for a child that parents love. It is easy not fuzzy. Children on the spectrum and older children prefer this because there are no buttons and zippers to deal with. It is much easier for young ones and potty training.
Ramona Dejesus- Curtis is the Creator and founder of K.i.D Clothes. She is a wife, mother, entrepreneur, blogger, vlogger and podcaster.