Most of you already know this, but I teach art to kids with autism. I have been working with kids with autism before most people had ever heard of it. Now, almost everyone knows someone with autism or knows someone who has a child with autism. That is because the rates of autism are rising and the numbers are staggering. According to the CDC, 1 in 88 children are on the autism spectrum. 1 in 88 children!!!! 1 in 54 boys are on the autism spectrum!
I have watched over the past 14 years, autism get more media coverage, special school programs change and develop, and the numbers and statistics of autism diagnosis’ rise.
There are a gazillion things I could write about autism or art and autism. BUT the thing I want to communicate today, is that early detection and intervention is the best known thing to help children with autism.
The earlier a child gets help, the better off he/she will be in the long run.
Many times, parents will have a concern about their child and either brush it off themselves, or bring it to their pediatrician and he/she brushes it off or says “Let’s wait and see”. While, I am all for caution and not rushing into any major decisions, the thing with autism is waiting and seeing can actually do more harm than good. If a child is really missing some milestones or really isn’t speaking, then that needs attention asap. In my opinion, it is better to be safe than sorry.
The thing is, most people don’t realize that by the time you notice something might be a bit off, you need to get in with your pediatrician. Then, after that, you need to possibly get in with specialist or neuropediatrician, which could take months. Even if you are not talking about autism, but a speech delay or some other kind of delay and you want to call early intervention, it is not like that process happens overnight. It can take several months to get an evaluation and therapy set up.
And here is the thing, that most people don’t realize- early intervention is only for kids under the age of 3. So once your child turns 3, they are then part of the school system and you have to see your child qualifies for a program at your local school.
I don’t say all these things to be a downer, but many moms think they can just make a call to EI whenever they want and it can start right away and last forever. That is not the case. And even if your child doesn’t have autism, but has a speech delay, they can still benefit greatly from EI.
I think many times as moms and friends, we just want everyone to be happy and we brush things off saying “Oh he’s just a boy. Boys talk later than girls. Boys are just different” etc. We mean well, but really sometimes it is more than “he is just a late bloomer” or “he is just a boy”. Sometimes, there is a real delay or even significant diagnosis needed.
So, what to do….
The main red flags or impairments of autism spectrum Disorders are:
- impairments in Social Interaction
- impairments in communication
- repetitive behaviors or limited interest
If you have a child, check out these milestones to make sure your child is developing appropriately. If you have any concerns, bring them to your doctor now, don’t wait. Call early intervention, now. The worst that can happen? You overreacted…The best that can happen, you did the right thing and got your child the help he/she needed.
Also, pass this info on, spread awareness….Hug your child with autism, hug your friend who is a mom to someone on the spectrum. Share your stories of autism…..
I would love to hear your feedback and anything you have to say on this subject. I am going to try and do a few more posts devoted to Autism this month, since April is Autism Awareness month. Let me know what ya think….