Better Hearing & Speech Month: Could my child have autism?

It is often times difficult to diagnose children with autism at an early age. Parents hear “your child is just a late talker,” “babies of the family don’t have to talk for themselves” or “your child is following his own developmental timeline.”
While this may be true for some children, it’s always best to seek a professional opinion, and follow up on recommendations given. The key to diagnosing and treating autism is early detection. Early and intensive intervention can have a profound impact on the quality of life for children at risk and their families.
Red flags for autism can occur in a variety of developmental areas including:
–          Social interaction
Ex: Does your child play well with others and make eye contact?
–          Communication
Ex: Does your child vocalize his or her wants or point to things?
–          Preferred activities
Ex: Does your child want to participate in the same activity over and over again?
–          Sensory processing
Ex: Is your child sensitive to loud noises or dislike being touched?
It may be difficult to see a major impairment in any one area; instead there may be a few concerns in several areas.
Typical red flags for autism typically include decreased eye contact and lack of shared attention to a task or interaction. Children at risk may have few vocals and/or a limited vocabulary. These children may also have limited, focused interests in play objects or activities.
If you, as a parent, have concerns regarding your child’s development, it is always best to get an evaluation. A trained professional specializing in autism will be able to validate or alleviate your concerns and get you and your family on the right track for your child’s individual needs.
by Alicia Christopher, MS, CCC-SLP