April is National Autism Awareness Month. The Autism Society launched this effort to not only promote autism awareness, but to ensure acceptance and inclusion in schools and to allow those with autism to be recognized for their unique talents and gifts. It’s important to identify autism early so the right treatment steps can be taken to reduce symptoms and increase these skills and abilities.
What is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex developmental disability. Present from early childhood, it’s characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people. Use of language and abstract concepts is also lacking in children with autism. As of 2016, it is estimated that one in 68 children has been identified with autism in the United States.
Early Identification is Key
Early detection of Autism can greatly improve a child’s development and life quality. What are some signs to look for in the children in your life?
- Little or no eye contact
- Fixation on certain parts of objects
- Delay in spoken language, or lack all together
- Repetitive use of language or behaviors-for example: flapping hands, rocking
- Lack of interest in playing with other children
- Lack of playing “make-believe”
There is no known single cause for autism. The size and shape of the brain in children with autism differ when compared with the brain of a child without the disorder. Theories are currently being explored to see what role genetics, medical problems, and other factors may play in the development of autism in children.
If your child is struggling with autism, they may qualify for a research study testing new potential treatment options. Qualified participants are cared for by board-certified physicians, and may be compensated for time and travel expense. Parents may also learn new ways to cope and treat their child’s autism.