April is Autism Awareness Month – How You Can Help Your Child

Parents don’t need to be reminded how much can change in 10 years……your newborn  is now in 5th grade, your 6 year old is now driving, your 8 year old is now graduating!!

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Ten years ago, Autism affected 1 in 125 children and today it’s now 1 in 68 children. Boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls.   Autism is one of the fasted growing developmental disorders.  But the statistics indicate, approximately one-fifth of all infants born annually are at risk for developmental disabilities.   An additional 20-30% of each birth cohort will require special education services due to social or familial factors such as unresponsive or unstimulating environments.

Is there a cure for Autism?  What can I do?

There is no one cure for autism, but some children can progress so they no longer meet the criteria for a diagnosis of autism.  Early identification and parent education can greatly impact a child’s development.  Parents, pediatricians or teachers can identify “red flags” for autism and other developmental delays even younger than 18 months old.  Early Intervention (EI) is a program which helps to identify and provide services for children birth to 3 years/36 months of age with an identified “delay” in at least one area of development, including :

  • how your child moves and explores (gross/fine motor, hearing/vision)
  • how your child learns (cognition)
  • how your child understands others and expresses him/herself (communication)
  • how your child engages with you and shows feelings (social-emotional)
  • how your child uses new skills (adaptive)

You can still help your child even if he/she doesn’t have to have a diagnosis or a “delay.”

Families can talk with their child’s pediatrician, daycare provider or preschool teacher if they have concerns.  Sometimes they are told “wait and see”, but that’s not always the answer parents want to hear.

Pediatric Interactions is one of the many sites within Lake County that offer developmental screenings.  Screenings should be an opportunity for a child to demonstrate certain skills or the family to answer questions about what their child can do at home.  Based on the observations and parent feedback, the screener may make a referral for an evaluation.  Families should also leave screenings with information regarding developmentally appropriate activities to do at home.  If not, parents should ask what they should be looking for next and what they can do.

Pediatric Interactions offers services in our clinics in Grayslake and McHenry, but also in families homes through the Early Intervention Program

Original post: As They Grow/Little Lake County, April 15, 2015, Sarah Rosten