As an author, I do a lot of research. One of the characters in The Scent of Wrath is a young boy with mild brain damage. Although Autism is a different issue, I believe some of the challenges Olivia, the child’s mother, faces will ring true for any parent of a child who is struggling.
I hope this article by Dr. Prezeklasa Auth, which was helpful in my plotting and planning, will be a blessing to someone else.
Have you ever noticed behaviors in your child that seem a little out of the ordinary and wondered if it was autism? Early detection is essential. There is help available. Dr. Melissa Prezeklasa Auth, a Pediatric Neurologist in Laguna Niguel, shares some early warning signs, when to take your child in for an evaluation and what you can do about it if your child is diagnosed.
As a Pediatric Neurologist, the main concept I emphasize with parents of an Autistic child is that Autism Spectrum Disorder is a diagnosis and not a prognosis. Autism Spectrum Disorders are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges manifested by varying levels of severities and outcomes.
Children from birth to at least 36 months of age are routinely evaluated for developmental progress through their well childcare visits with their primary care physician. Pediatricians will routinely use standardized assessments including the Ages and Stages questionnaire or the Denver Developmental Screening tool to assess for any red flags or areas of concern with regard to a child’s development.
The following red flags may indicate a child is at risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder and is in need of an immediate evaluation.
Impairment in Social Interaction:
- Lack of appropriate eye gaze/eye contact
- Lack of warm, joyful emotional expressions
- Lack of sharing interest or enjoyment
- Lack of response to name
Impairment in Communication:
- Lack of gesturing, including pointing
- Lack of coordination of nonverbal communication, joint attention
- Unusual prosody (little variation in pitch, odd intonation, irregular rhythm,
unusual voice quality)
Repetitive Behaviors & Restricted Interests:
- Repetitive movements with objects
- Repetitive movements or posturing of body, arms, hands, or fingers
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1 in 110 children in the United States have Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Parents who have one child with Autism Spectrum Disorder have a 2%–8% chance of having a second child who is also affected.
In approximately 10% of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder there is an identifiable genetic, neurologic or metabolic disorder, such as fragile X or Down syndrome.
Autism Speaks is the nation’s largest Autism advocacy organization and their website can help families find nearby support groups as well as information about the diagnosis and treatment programs.
A main concern for parents is whether or not to vaccinate their child. Medical research has shown that there is no causal link between vaccines and Autism. The original article at the start of the controversy was published in 1998 in Lancet, a prominent medical journal. It was retracted in 2010 citing that “several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al are incorrect.” Therefore, health practitioners and the American Academy of Pediatrics advise all families to vaccinate their children to protect them against serious preventable diseases.
Children with Autism and their families are eligible for services and support from both public and private entities that may lead to significant developmental progress. Early diagnosis and intensive intervention may lead to overcoming many of the perceived disabilities of a child on the Autism Spectrum.
When children are diagnosed with Autism prior to the age of 3, they are eligible to receive services from their county’s Regional Center. These statewide, nonprofit organizations help to coordinate services and support for patients with disabilities and their families. Services offered through the Orange County Regional Center may include infant stimulation, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.
Children diagnosed after the age of 3 are eligible to receive services through their school district. When parents request an Individualized Education Plan, their child will be assessed and granted services designed to help them excel academically. Services offered may include speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, special day classes, resource classes, and modified physical education.
Private sources of ABA therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy may be available to eligible patients through their individual insurance plans.
Research has shown that early intervention can drastically improve a child’s developmental outcome. If red flags for Autism Spectrum Disorder appear, you should seek assessment and treatment as soon as possible to help your child reach his or her full potential.
Find help at https://www.thebabbleout.com/autism/
Boyle C, Van Naarden Braun K, Yeargin-Allsopp M. The Prevalence and the Genetic Epidemiology of Developmental Disabilities. In: Genetics of Developmental Disabilities. Merlin Butler and John Meany eds. 2005.