The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) places the rate of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at 1 in 68 births
A diagnosis of autism is easier to deal with if discovered earlier rather than later when the child is in school. Getting your child into an early intervention program for autism in Little Rock, Arkansas helps your child cope better in the long run.
Infants can grow out of their diagnosis and no longer be considered autistic at a later age. When they do, they end up showing better social skills and cultivating better interpersonal relationships. However, a treatment program has to be initiated.
Everything starts with the recognition of certain signs that researchers have discovered over the last few decades.
Early signs of autism span a few different categories. These include social impairments, cognitive impairments, communication difficulties, and repetitive behaviors. Expanding these early signs into more specific things to look for is a bit more helpful.
Does your child have autism?
Social impairments constitute a usual sign of autism. Signs include a lack of social skills, the child not responding when you call their name, the child answering a different question than the one you asked, the inability to understand other people’s feelings, a desire to be alone, avoiding eye contact, avoiding physical contact, and not smiling often.
Communication impairments include delayed speech, switching “you” and “I,” getting upset when change occurs, and lack of facial expressions.
Cognitive impairments affect the way someone thinks. Signs include the child not showing interest in their favorite toys or objects of interest, sensitivity to sound, sensitivity to different textures, sensitivity to lights, and the child not considering the danger of situations.
Repetitive behaviors may be due to medications or vitamin and mineral deficiencies, but they are also indicative of autism spectrum disorders. Signs include the child repeating words or phrases and the child rocking their body frequently, spinning, or flapping hands.
Your child does not need to display every sign to be diagnosed with autism. The true diagnostic term for the disorder is autism spectrum disorder, meaning the child’s symptoms could be mild, moderate or severe.
When should I start looking for autism’s early signs?
You must remember that you know your child best, and you are more likely to notice little things that gain your attention. Some children display signs as early as a few months old, while others show symptoms around age 3.
When you should start looking for early signs varies depending on the medical experts interviewed. The American Academy of Pediatrics maintains that between 18 and 24 months of age will suffice with broad developmental screening at 9 months, 18 months, and 24 months.
However, this is referring to getting a doctor to evaluate your child and does not mean that you should not start observing your child from birth.
What are developmental screening tests?
Developmental screening tests are simple tests a doctor gives to a child to assess speech, behavior, learning ability, and movement. Doctors conduct these tests during regular visits when the child is well.
Doctors recommend additional testing if your baby was premature, had a low birth weight, or if some of the early autism signs are already present. Since autism may retain a genetic component, a child that has siblings with autism should also receive additional screening.
The tests given to children vary depending on the child’s age. Children under the age of 30 months are given tests that involve playing. Older children may have difficulty taking tests, so this is taken into account. The test is designed for each individual child. This way doctors and specialists may account for the whole spectrum of autism.
What does an early intervention program for autism look like?
Treatment for autism in Little Rock centers around sensory integration therapy. This is because autistic children have difficulty processing information that pertains to the senses such as what is seen, heard, felt, smelled, and movements.
For example, a child that is under sensitive to sounds may start banging kitchen utensils against a plate or other object. A child that is overly sensitive to sounds will possibly run off in fear when they hear a loud noise, and withdraw from all social contact.
Specialists use natural types of games and activities to help foster the processing of the senses for those with autism. One of the strategies involves using a weighted blanket at night. This is a blanket that quiets an overactive nervous system, soothing the child. If your child avoids movement or is hyperactive, activities may include climbing, jumping, and spinning. These activities stimulate the part of the brain called the vestibular system.
Other sensory integration activities include playing on a playground or equine therapy. These help a child process his world in three dimensions and help him restore his proprioception.
If you have noticed in your child some of the early signs of autism and want to find out more about an early intervention program for autism in Little Rock, then contact the office of Integrity, Inc., or fill out the form on the contact page.