Autism – How do I know?

There are many warning signs and symptoms of autism.  As children get older, the “red flags” become more diverse.  These “red flags” revolve around impaired social skills, speech and language problems, non-verbal communication difficulties and inflexible behavior.  When we were going through the evaluation process with my daughter, they started with the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised (ADI-R).  They asked almost a hundred questions broken down in three categories: social interaction, communication and language, and repetitive behavior. Although I felt like I was on trial, these questions are to aid the clinician in assessing autism in children.

But how do you know if you need to have your child evaluated?  In the beginning of our journey when my daughter was two, the doctor asked questions to find out if my daughter was showing signs of autism.  Here is a list of some of the questions I was asked:

  1. Does she avoid eye contact?
  2. Does she smile back when you smile at her?
  3. Does she imitate others facial expressions?
  4. Does she respond to her name being called?
  5. When an object is pointed to does she follow the gesture?
  6. Does she respond to cuddling or reach up to be picked up?
  7. Does she show interest in playing with others?
  8. Does she use gestures to communicate like waving goodbye or pointing to something she wants?
  9. Does she pretend play?
  10. Is she sensitive to loud noises?
  11. Does she have a difficulty adapting to change?
  12. Does she repeat the same movements over and over again (flapping hands or rocking back and forth)?
  13. Does she say any words?

It wasn’t until they got to the last two questions when I had to say YES and NO.  That was enough for her doctor to encourage the autism evaluation.  I was petrified!  I thought she’s just behind a little…she’ll start talking any day now.  She’s cute when she rocks back and forth on the ground and walks like a crab…what’s wrong with that?  How can my daughter have autism based on two questions?  Sometimes two is enough.  After the intense evaluation, it was apparent she was autistic.  Two years later, she is making great strides in speech and sign language thanks to her great group of therapists.

If you suspect your child is showing signs of autism, get help now.  The earlier a child gets the therapy he or she needs the better! Make sure you check out the Early Intervention information under the autism awareness tab for more information.



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