Only a parent can know his or her child better than anyone else. It’s a great privilege for me to be a mother. We love our children and want to nurture them and protect them.
I remember I took my son Omar to the doctor’s office several times however the doctors could not see any problem with him other than his current condition, which was cerebral palsy. I knew there was something wrong with him, I suspected him to be autistic. After rigorous 6-8 months of researching more on autism and videotaping my son’s behaviors, I took them to the doctors again. A thorough evaluation and diagnosis confirmed his autism, at that point in time he was around 9 years old. So Immediately my son started all kinds of therapy. Now my son is 18 years of age. As I look back, these years have not been easy, but they have earned me a firsthand experience and rich knowledge of Autism.
An autism diagnosis can be difficult to come to terms with. Trying to find new ways for everyone in the family to cope with a new condition and support each other can be difficult. Many time parents get little guidance on what to do next. Just know I am here to support you.
If you think your child could be autistic contact your healthcare provider and get your child screened. According to the Center for Disease Control, today autism affects every 1 in 59 children in the United States.
Autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) alludes to an intricate neurobehavioral condition characterized by impairments in social interaction and communication skills and disability in language development in combination with rigid, repetitive behaviors. It umbrellas a large spectrum of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment. ASD ranges in severity from being disabled, who somewhat may require less support to a devastating disability requiring significant support and institutional care in their daily lives, while sometimes, people can live entirely independently. Autism is just one syndrome under the umbrella of ASD.
Autistic children have trouble communicating and relating to other people. Because of the cognitive impairment, they feel it tough, expressing themselves either with words or through gestures, facial expressions, and touch. Sometimes they might even be pained by sounds, touches, smells, or sights that seem normal to others. Each person has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. How autistic people learn, think and solve problems can range from highly skilled to severely challenged.
Several factors may contribute to the development of autism. It is often accompanied by sensory sensitivities and medical issues such as gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures or sleep disorders, and mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression and attention issues.
Symptoms of autism are usually clear by age 2 or 3. Some correlated development delays can appear even earlier, and often, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Some infants show signs from birth while in some it is clear at a later age. Research shows earlier the intervention, the more like it is to be effective.
Not all autistic children show all the signs. Many children, who show a few, might not have autism at all. Henceforth professional evaluation is crucial.
Monitor these “red flags “closely to find if your child is at risk for ASD. If you spot any of these within the first two years, consult your pediatrician or family doctor for evaluation immediately:
- By 6 months no big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions.
Limited or no eye contact.
- By 9 months minimal or no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions
- By 12 months little or no cooing or babbling
Little or no gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving
Little or no response to name.
- By 16 months-few or no words.
- By 24 months-insignificant or no meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating)