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Autism and Early Intervention For Toddlers: 7 Signs To Keep in Mind

Some of you who might not know this, especially if you haven’t been following me here for very long, but in another life I was a preschool teacher. During my time as a teacher, I encountered numerous situations where a child was displaying some of the warning signs for Autism, but when we spoke with the child’s parents they refused to have any type of evaluation done on their child. I always found this to be baffling.

I have a brother with Asperger’s Syndrome and he wasn’t diagnosed until he was 11 years old. I remember the frustration that everyone in our family felt when trying to communicate with my brother during those years. We were all in the dark. I remember not understanding why he just didn’t seem to “get it.” But, once he was diagnosed in middle school, it was like a veil lifted and things all started making sense. My brother wasn’t just trying to be difficult – he simply didn’t process information the same way that everyone else in our family did. After we all realized this and learned more about it, our communication improved infinitely and the level of frustration subsided. That’s not to say that it was easy, but things got so much better.

Now that I am a parent myself, I have a clearer understanding of why the parents of those children in my class were hesitant to seek help. As parents, we hope the best for our children and we have dreams and aspirations for them – visions or what their life will be like. Even considering that your child may have any type of special need can be seen as akin to a death sentence – the death of the life you had planned out in your mind for your little one. But, it really isn’t. Having a child with a special need, be it Autism or anything else, doesn’t make them any less capable. Their capabilities are just different. And knowing how your child thinks, learns, and processes information can only help you on your journey to helping them become the best person they can be. Who could ask any more than that?

Here are 7 signs (from Autism Speaks) to keep in mind as your toddler is developing… things I am keeping in mind for my own daughter as well.

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  • Autism and Early Intervention For Toddlers: 7 Signs To Keep In Mind 1 of 10
    Autism and Early Intervention For Toddlers: 7 Signs To Keep In Mind
    As your child is growing, learning and changing, here are a few developmental signs to keep in mind.
  • 1 in 88 2 of 10
    1 in 88
    The reason that I am so adamant about parents educating themselves about the signs of Autism is because it is becoming increasingly more prevalent. 1 in 88 children are currently affected by Autism. 1 in 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls. The numbers are staggering, so it's time to be aware.
  • Big smiles or joyful expressions 3 of 10
    Big smiles or joyful expressions
    No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter.
  • Back-and-forth expressions smiles and sounds 4 of 10
    Back-and-forth expressions smiles and sounds
    No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months.
  • Babbling 5 of 10
    Babbling
    No babbling by 12 months.
  • Back-and-forth gestures 6 of 10
    Back-and-forth gestures
    No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months.
  • No words 7 of 10
    No words
    No words by 16 months.
  • Meaningful 2-word phrases 8 of 10
    Meaningful 2-word phrases
    No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months.
  • Any loss of skill 9 of 10
    Any loss of skill
    Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age.
  • M-Chat 10 of 10
    M-Chat
    If you've noticed any of these red flags, there is also an online screening that you can take called the M-Chat (Modified Checklist For Autism In Toddlers) and if you have any concerns make an appointment with your child's pediatrician to get more information.

    Take the M-Chat and find out more information about Autism at Autism Speaks

I am a strong believer in early intervention for improving the outcomes of children with Autism. This is what Autism Speaks has to say about Early Intervention and Autism:

“There is no debate or doubt: early intervention is your child’s best hope for the future. Early attention to improving the core behavioral symptoms of autism will give your child and the rest of the family several important benefits that you will not gain if you take a wait-and-see approach until your child enters school at age four or five…Early Intervention will improve the outcome for your child.”

As difficult as it may be to entertain the idea that Autism could affect your child, it is so important to be aware of the signs, so that should you encounter it you will know how to take action.

{Information source: Autism Speaks}

 

Lauren Hartmann is the founder of The Little Things We Do, a blog about life and adventures in Portland Oregon. Follow her on TwitterFacebookPinterest and Instagram or catch up on all of her posts here on Babble. More from Lauren:

MORE ON BABBLE
What causes Autism? 6 possible theories
My son with Asperger’s: why I couldn’t admit he was on the spectrum
20 boredom-busting activities for toddlers
What not to do with your toddler… EVER
20 simple ways to show your kids you love them

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