From the Editors desk – Recognizing the red flags of autism

I am the mother of a very active, incredibly sweet, extremely brilliant – some may say terrible – three year old named Andrew.

Some of you may have seen me sprinting behind him at local parades and festivals.

Last year Andrew was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Luckily for us, his pediatrician also has an autistic child and recognized the red flags early.

At his 1-year check-up his pediatrician gave me information about the First Words Words Project, and recommended we begin early interventions.

At that time, Andrew was walking, but he wasn’t saying anywords, he wasn’t making eye contact, nor was he waving hello or goodbye, or responding to his name.

Two years later, he still doesn’t respond to his name.

Likewise, after years of early interventions, speech therapy, and occupational therapy he still does not use words consistently.

I try to keep track of the words he can say: cat, bat, go, ghost, ball, apple, and his favorite…vampire.

He still rarely makes eye contact, but last night he looked in my eyes and smiled as I sang the ABC song to him.

That is tremendous progress for us.

I attempted to do it again to see how long I could hold his attention but he laughed and ran off before I got to H.

April is Autism Awareness Month.

Many people don’t don’t recognize the signs of Autism..

Some of the red flags are:

• Avoiding or not keeping eye contact

• Does not respond to name by 9 months of age

• Uses few or no gestures by 12 months of age (for example, does not wave goodbye)

• Does not share interests with others by 15 months of age

• Does not point to show you something interesting by 18 months of age

I also noticed that he displayed obsessive and repetitive behaviors when he was about 10 months old. To this day, he lines up anything he can get his hands on…blocks, toys, packs of baby wipes, boxes of diapers, mail, you name it.

While he didn’t have a meltdown if someone moved one out of place, he would immediately put it back how he wanted it.

Just last week he got a whole loaf of bread and made a trail from the dining room to the front door, and was working on a tower.

Lack of fear or more fear than expected, and unusual eating and sleeping habits are also characteristics to watch for.

While it’s true all children move at their own pace, an infant or toddler not meeting milestone stages is a cause for concern.

If your child is missing early milestones it’s important to consult with his or her pediatrician to get them the help they need.

Erin Hill


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