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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

African-American Children Diagnosed Later For Autism; Reviewing Signs and Symptoms Of Autism in Babies and Toddlers; What Words Should Every Child Know By Age 2?; Advocates For Special Education Disappointed in President's Proposed Budget; Dan Marino Foundation News

"The only disability in life is a bad attitude." Scott Hamilton

African-American Children Diagnosed Later For Autism

Martell Teasley, associate professor in the College of Social Work at Florida State University, reported recently that African-American children are usually diagnosed later for autism than white children.  It appears the lack of access to timely health care is among one of the reasons for the delay in treatment. In addition, because of social stigma issues, Teasley reported some Black families might be resistant or reluctant to accept a diagnosis. As a result, this also could lead to the lack of timely treatment. Teasley reminds parents that intervention needs to start at about the age of 3. Later intervention and treatment will often result in poorer developmental outcomes. (News-Medical and Doctor's Lounge).

Recognizing Signs and Symptoms of Autism in Babies and Toddlers

Since early detection is of paramount importance in the treatment and intervention of children with autism, what should parents look for in babies and toddlers?  Parents should be aware of the following warning signs:
  • The child does not make eye contact (For example, you child should look at you at feeding time).
  • Does not return a smile.
  • Does not respond to his/her own name.
  • Does not respond to a familiar voice.
  • Does not make noises to get your attention.
  • Does not respond to cuddling (May not initiate either).
  • Does not reach out to you to be picked up.
  • Does not play with other children.
  • Does not ask for help.
  • Does not make basic requests.
  • No baby talk (if not evidenced by 10- 12 months, the child needs an immediate evaluation by a pediatrician). The same advice if the child fails to respond to his/her name.
  • If, by 16 months, the child has no spoken words, an immediate evaluation is necessary.
  • If, by 24 months, the child makes no meaningful two-word phrases, the child needs an immediate evaluation.
Note: It's not unusual for some children with autism to start developing communication skills and then regress. This usually occurs between 12 and 24 months.  In other words, any loss of speech requires immediate attention by a professional.

More importantly, if autism is caught early, treatment can be very effective. The human brain is remarkably flexible. That's another reason why early intervention is so critically important.

The lesson in all of this: Early detection of autism is up to the parents. No one knows their own child like a parent does. Parental observation and experience are of incredible value and relevance to intervention and evaluation.

So What Words Should Every Child Know By Age 2?