Friday, April 1, 2016

Early Diagnosis is the Key!

We are officially in autism awareness month. However, we all know that I like to raise awareness every day. The importance of raising awareness is crucial for many reasons. One of the reasons why it is so important to raise awareness is for early diagnosis. Early diagnosis is CRUCIAL folks! I truly believe that it can make a huge impact on your child no matter where they fall on the spectrum.

No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
  • No words by 16 months
  • No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
  • Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age
  • Doesn’t make eye contact (e.g. look at you when being fed)
  • Doesn't smile when smiled at
  • Doesn't respond to his or her name, or to the sound of a familiar voice
  • Doesn’t follow objects visually
  • Doesn't point or wave goodbye, or use other gestures to communicate
  • Doesn’t follow the gesture when you point things out
  • Doesn’t make noises to get your attention
  • Doesn’t initiate or respond to cuddling
  • Doesn’t imitate your movements and facial expressions
  • Doesn’t reach out to be picked up
  • Doesn’t play with other people or share interest and enjoyment
  • Doesn’t ask for help or make other basic requests
  • Appears disinterested or unaware of other people or what’s going on around them
  • Doesn’t know how to connect with others, play, or make friends
  • Prefers not to be touched, held, or cuddled
  • Doesn’t play "pretend" games, engage in group games, imitate others, or use toys in creative ways
  • Has trouble understanding or talking about feelings
  • Doesn’t seem to hear when others talk to him or her
  • Doesn't share interests or achievements with others (drawings, toys)
  • Follows a rigid routine (e.g. insists on taking a specific route to school)
  • Has difficulty adapting to any changes in schedule or environment (e.g. throws a tantrum if the furniture is rearranged or bedtime is at a different time than usual)
  • Unusual attachments to toys or strange objects
  • Obsessively lines things up or arranges them in a certain order
  • Preoccupation with a narrow topic of interest, often involving numbers or symbols (e.g. memorizing and reciting facts about maps, train schedules, or sports statistics)
  • Spends long periods of time arranging toys in specific ways, watching moving objects such as a ceiling fan, or focusing on one specific part of an object such as the wheels of a toy car
  • Repeats the same actions or movements over and over again, such as flapping hands, rocking, or twirling (known as self-stimulatory behavior, or “stimming”). Some researchers and clinicians believe that these behaviors may soothe children with autism more than stimulate them.


  • There are other signs, these are not the only signs. Other areas go into autism too such as sleep problems, sensory problems, etc. However, what I would love people to understand is that a child does not have to have every single one of these symptoms to have autism.  For example, Andrew has many or had many of these symptoms such as
    • Has trouble understanding or talking about feelings
    • Doesn’t know how to connect with others, play, or make friends
    • Preoccupation with a narrow topic of interest
    • Lines things up and arranges in certain order
    • follow rigid routine
    However, Andrew is great on eye contact, smiling, enjoys being touched and held. There are many symptoms that Andrew is great in and many that he is not. Not every child has to display every symptom like Trenton.
    Thankfully both boys were diagnosed early.  Andrew has shown incredible improvements the last two years since he has been in therapy. For instance, he doesn't line items up anymore. Instead he actually plays with toys appropriately almost every day!!

    So, yes awareness needs to be spread daily. I have had several people thank me for helping them get their loved one diagnosed just because of my blog.  There is a lot that defines autism. Much, much more than just this one small little post. For example, a child can be like Andrew and be "too" social. Many people think that you have to be like Trenton and have no socialization skills in order to have autism.  Every symptoms can go either way...hypo or hyper. Trenton is hypo and Andrew is hyper.

    Please, don't miss the signs! If you are the littlest bit worried, talk to your doctor. The earliest your child or loved one can get help, the better. I feel very confident saying that if I would not have got Andrew diagnosed so early, I don't think he would be as mild as he is.

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