Every parent of a child with autism understands how challenging parenting them can be. The great news is that there are early intervention options out there that can help your child become the best they can be. These options also help you become a better parent by learning to use effective methods.
Early intervention simply means getting an early diagnosis for your child. This requires paying attention to certain indicators and talking with your family doctor or pediatrician about the symptoms you’re seeing. Continue reading to understand how early intervention helps children with autism.
An Autism Diagnosis
Since Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a spectrum, it can be challenging to diagnose. Autism looks different in each and every individual who has it.
That said, some children display signs of autism and developmental delays as early as 12 to 18 months of age. Others won’t begin to show any symptoms until they’re older. Either way, every health professional will agree that the earlier your child receives an accurate Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis, the better.
Autism Signs by Age
Remember, signs and symptoms will vary widely. Some kids can show signs before they turn one, but most children begin to develop visible delays before they turn two. There are even cases where kids who ultimately don’t have autism will show signs that might indicate they do. These reasons are why seeking a professional evaluation is incredibly important.
Let’s explore some of the signs by age for autism. If you notice any of these signs in your child, talk about them with your child’s pediatrician.
Look for minimal or no eye contact; this sign is one a lot of people know to look for. You should also watch how often your child smiles or shows signs of joy.
If you’re noticing little to no back-and-forth facial expressions, sounds, or smiles, it’s a reason to talk with your child’s doctor.
You should reach out to a healthcare professional if your one-year-old isn’t babbling, isn’t responding to their name, or isn’t reaching, waving, pointing, or showing.
Pay attention to how many words your child knows and uses. You should talk with your child’s family doctor or pediatrician if they use very few or no words.
Pay attention to how often your child is or is not using two-word phrases. This sign doesn’t include repeating or imitating.
Signs at Any Age
There are some signs you might notice that could present at any age. They include the following:
- Restricted interests
- Eye contact avoidance
- Intense and unusual reactions to tastes, smells, textures, colors, lights, and sounds
- Delayed language development
- Speech, social, or babbling skills lost
- Word or phrase repetition
- Prefer to be alone
- Repetitive behaviors, such as spinning, rocking, or flapping
- Becomes upset by minor changes in routine
As we begin to learn more about Autism Spectrum Disorder, we understand that it is more complex than initially thought. Never be afraid to voice your concerns to a healthcare professional. They’ll guide you in the right direction and ensure your child receives the help they need.
Early Autism Diagnosis Benefits
An early autism diagnosis brings many benefits for your child and for you as the parent. A diagnosis provides long-term positive effects for your kid’s skills and ASD symptoms. Often, children don’t receive a diagnosis until later in life; this could be due to a parent’s inability to notice the symptoms, or a lack of access to care. But the sooner your child with autism begins behavioral therapy, the more progress you’ll see as they grow and develop the new skills they learn.
Early autism detection sets your child up for success as they go through life. It will help improve their mental, physical, and emotional skills. Your child’s therapist will create a unique and specialized therapy plan, which will change with your kid as they grow and develop.
Early intervention is also beneficial for parents. It’s easy for a parent to feel lost when it comes to finding a parenting style that works for their autistic child. Before an autism diagnosis, you could simply feel frustrated because parenting your child seems to be more difficult than parenting others. With early intervention and preparation, you can feel ready mentally and emotionally for the road ahead.
Signs of Progress
Since every child with autism is different, there is no concrete answer as to when you might notice signs of progress. But with the help of early intervention, you will see those signs, and they will continue to improve with treatment. Keep in mind that you won’t notice differences in your child after the first session. You may not even notice a difference after 15 sessions.
The important thing to remember is that the earlier you begin involving your child in therapy and other early intervention methods, the sooner you’ll begin to see progress. With the right care, they’ll be more likely to curb certain behaviors and become on track with their peers.
The more often your child goes to therapy will also determine how soon you notice improvement. As they grow and age, you may spot new challenges showing up, meaning your children will have new areas where they can grow and improve.
It may take a child with autism longer to learn how to do something than it would take a neurotypical child. Or they may show interest in a specific subject while ignoring most others. You can evaluate these areas as an indication of your child’s progress in learning new skills and knowledge. Your child will become curious about learning new things, so you can give them the opportunity to follow your lead or another adult’s directions. In doing so, your kid will begin to solve problems without giving up or becoming easily frustrated. Additionally, you might notice your child asking for help with accomplishing a task, or they may actively seek out other children to play and socialize with.
Many parents of children in early intervention autism services first notice changes in their kids’ social-emotional skills. They’ll see their children interacting more appropriately with siblings, peers, and other children. Your child will show signs of empathy—they may ask if you’re okay or why you feel a specific way. These progress indicators are evidence that the early intervention is working appropriately.
There is plenty of research to back up the claim that early intervention and diagnosis help children with autism. Therapy assists your child in developing the skills they need to grow and move through life. Early intervention gives your child the best chance at independence and self-sufficiency. South Shore Autism Center provides the Massachusetts area with quality early intervention services for children with autism. Contact us today if you’re interested in learning more about our facilities.