Autism Signs

Autism Facts

Autism spectrum disorders, commonly referred to as autism, are brain based developmental disabilities categorized by language/communication problems, impaired social interaction, and repetitive, rigid behaviors and interests.

The symptoms of autism vary widely from child to child and range from mild to severe.
Once considered rare, autism is now estimated to affect 1 in every 150 children in the United States; every 20 minutes a child is diagnosed.

Autism is four times more common in boys than in girls, and occurs in children of all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Symptoms can often be detected by 18 months of age or earlier. When parents first suspect the first signs of early autism may be present they should discuss these concerns with their pediatrician and ask for an autism screening.

Research indicates that early identification and intensive early intervention can result in significant positive outcomes for many children with autism.

Early Signs Of Autism Spectrum Disorders

By four months of age:
Does not make eye contact or makes little eye contact
Does not seem interested in other people
Does not react by looking at people when they are making social "sounds", such as humming or clapping
Does not show much interest in people as objects
Does not have a social smile (smiling back to someone who smiles at them without being cooed or touched)
Does not show interest in watching other peoples' faces

By 12 months of age:
Does not combine eye contact with smiling
Does not babble (or the babble does not sound like "talking")
Does not look at objects that another person is looking at
Does not try to engage other people in what he/she is looking at or doing
Does not follow a person's eye contact when the person points out an object and says, "Look at the airplane!"
Does not engage in back-and-forth gestures, such as giving, showing or sharing toys
Does not respond when name is called
Does not point using the index finger
Does not show a caring or concerned reaction to other people crying
Does not use gestures, such as waving "hi" or "bye"

By 24 months of age:
Does not point to share interests with others, such as pointing to an airplane
Does not imitate common activities of others, such as sweeping the floor
Does not develop pretend of make-believe play
Does not use single words by 16 months, no two-word spontaneous phrases ("go car" or "look doggie") by 24 months

Other developmental signs:
May develop language and/or social skills normally and then lose some or all of these skills
Has repetitive body movements (hand flapping, spinning)
Fixates upon a single object, such as a spoon or book
Cannot tolerate change in routine or environment, such as a new toothbrush or a replacement for a lost toy
Has oversensitivity to texture, lights and/or sounds
Has delayed motor skills (late walking, riding a tricycle or learning to jump)
Prefers to play alone or does not interact with peers as expected, such as asking for friends to come over, playing together or taking turns
Lines items up or puts things in order repeatedly
Has excessive tantrums and is difficult to console
Walk on tiptoes
May not enjoy cuddling or being touched unless it is on own terms

The presence of any one or a combination of these warning signs does not necessarily mean that your child has an autism spectrum disorder. If your child demonstrates any of these signs, please discuss your concerns with your pediatrician and ask for a referral for further evaluation.

Autistic Boy Saves Mom In Labour

April 1st is known as April Fools Day but this day was no joke for 11 year old Craig Draper. Craig's mother went into premature labour and he knew something had to be done. Craig's situation was complicated by the fact that he has autism and finds it difficult to communicate. He knew it was an emergency and ran to an nearby neighbor's home for help. To get the attention of the family friend all he could think to yell was "there's a bomb!" over and over again. Craig is now the proud brother to sister Rachel who will certainly look up to her big brother as her hero. Mother Michelle is very proud of how cool Craig stayed under all the pressure.

See the story below.

Ever Visited Holland?

I recently reconnected with a dear school friend on facebook. She reminded me of a story that highlights the adventures found raising a child with autism. As it turns out my friend and I have more in common than some shared childhood memories. Her son has autism too.

WELCOME TO HOLLAND by Emily Perl Kingsley. c1987

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting. After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland." "Holland?!" you say. "What do you mean Holland? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy." But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place. So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met. It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts. But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss. But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Early Autism Intervention Is Crucial

Autism In The News
April 4, 2008

I don't think there's anyone out there who would dispute that getting the news your child has autism would be a hard pill to swallow. As hard as it is to face the facts that come with the diagnosis once it's made it's crucial that the disorder is detected and intervention is started as early as possible. Some very young children are even put on an "autism watch" when they start to show developmental delays but it's deemed too early to test or tell. In my son's case he was given the incorrect diagnosis of ADHD along with the now laughable guess that he was hearing impaired. Yes, we actually had to put him through a battery of hearing tests and he actually wore hearing aids for a period of wasted time. I'm not too bitter really, but it's too bad we didn't used that time more productively with a speech therapist. We also wasted too many hours travelling to Psychiatrist appointments all for the sole purpose of messing around with medications and doses. Oh, if only I had my time back I would have asked more questions and rejected more suggestions!
See the story below.

Jenny's Autism CURE Claims

Autism In The News
April 3 ,2008

Jenny McCarthy is on a crusade to help parents with autistic children. She's even recruited her new beau Jim Carrey. Recently, Jenny has been all over the talk show circuit; timed to coincide with the first World Autism Awareness Day. Her young son Evan has been diagnosed with autism and she's claimed to have cured him. I've watched several of Jenny's interviews and she does indeed use the word "cure" and the word "fix" when referring to her son's autism. I must say that Jenny's repeated use of these words doesn't sit very well with me. I wish she would use the term recovery instead. I know what she means to portray but I feel it comes off the wrong way especially to people dealing with everyday autism struggles. Jenny has managed to control some of her son's behaviors with ABA therapy and a special diet to control food allergies so his symptoms have subsided. The real truth is that Evan will always be autistic. Autism is not cancer. It can't be cured and people with autism don't need to be fixed. The word cure is misleading and the word fix is insulting. Autism exists for a person's lifetime and the best we can do is help the autistic person develop skills to cope and manage in the world. If the medical community developed a pill to cure autism and I gave it to my autistic son then I imagine he would become a totally different person wouldn't he? Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for Evan, Jenny and Jim but I think her miracle claims of a cure are doing the autistic community a major disservice. Should we all be searching for a miraculous combination of therapies and services in order to cure our loved ones of autism? What if we don't succeed? Are we all not doing the best that we can with our limited resources? Evan is one lucky boy. Jenny is a very devoted mother but she needs to act responsibly and edit herself if she's putting herself out there as an autism advocate.

Above is a recent picture taken at the movie premiere of Horton Hears A Who with Evan, Jim, Jenny and Jim's daughter Jane
See recent news on Evan, Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey below.