Autism Acceptance Month Day 2: How would a parent know to pursue a diagnosis?

Often parents are the first to notice if their child seems to not be meeting developmental milestones in a typical time frame.

Then well-meaning friends and family try to be helpful and say things like, “all children develop differently,” or “boys talk later than girls,” etc.

And while we appreciate these sentiments, they are not helpful. In fact, delaying an autism screening can prevent children from receiving the help they need during the earliest, most important developmental period from birth to age three.

So what are the signs that a parent should be looking for so as not to miss the early intervention stage?

1. The first is not meeting developmental milestones within the average time frame. Follow a developmental milestone tracker, such as Birth to Five: Watch Me Thrive, to know what that time frame is. So not talking, not smiling, not making eye contact, not responding to their name. If your child exhibits any of these, ask their pediatrician for an autism screening.

2. The second, is a regression in a previously learned skill. For example, your child goes from speaking to nonverbal, from smiling to not, from making eye contact to not, from responding to their own name to not. If your child exhibits any of these, ask their pediatrician for an autism screening.

3. The third is atypical behavior. For example, lining up toys rather than playing with them, intent focus on a part of an object rather than the whole, staring at moving objects such as ceiling fans, toe-walking, hand-flapping, sensory sensitivities, food aversions, intense meltdowns over small disruptions, etc. If your child exhibits any of these, ask their pediatrician for an autism screening.

Remember, an autism evaluation won’t cause autism. What it will do, is offer them and their family the support they need sooner than later.

Tomorrow’s Question: How does a parent pursue an autism screening/evaluation?

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Amy Nielsen lives in Orlando, Florida. She is the proud mother of four children ranging in age from 5-33! She and her husband, Brent enjoy sports and traveling. Amy is a former teacher with nearly 20 years of experience, a freelance writer, and a special needs advocate. Her mission is to help educate and empower families of children with disabilities to focus on their child's interests and strengths.