Proper nutrition, exercise and rest are very important for your child’s health. Providing a safe and loving home and spending time with your child – playing, singing, reading, even just talking – can make a big difference in their development.
But do you know all the ways your child should grow? We naturally think of height and weight, but your child’s growth is more than just physical. From birth to age 5 your child should reach milestones in how they play, learn, speak and act. Skills such as taking a first step, smiling for the first time, and waving “bye-bye” are called developmental milestones. A developmental delay is when your child does not reach these milestones at the same time as other children of the same age.
A delay may be an early sign of a problem such as autism. Autism impairs an individual’s ability to interact socially, communicate clearly and effectively, and behave appropriately. Autism cases are growing with greater frequency than any other developmental disability – increasing from between 10 and 17 percent each year. According to a recent Center for Disease Control (CDC) survey, 1 in 50 children have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. That’s a lot of kids!
But, autism doesn’t just affect the kids who have it. It affects entire families. Behind each of those children are parents and friends who want to help. But how? Because there is no known cause for autism and its symptoms can vary so widely, parents are left wondering about its signs and possible ways to help their children.
The good news is the earlier the signs of autism are recognized the more you can do to help your child.
Usually a parent is the first to notice that their child is not progressing at the same rate as other children. Unfortunately parents may hesitate to seek professional advice when their child is not reaching their milestones. While missing a milestone mark doesn’t mean your child has autism, you should at least discuss the possibilities with your doctor. It is very important to seek help early so you can help your child can reach his or her full potential.
If you are concerned your child may have a developmental delay such as autism, it is important to contact your child’s doctor. The doctor can talk with you, examine your child, and refer you to agencies that help to screen or evaluate children for autism. It may take several visits and possibly a referral and screening by a developmental specialist. The sooner autism is detected, the sooner parents and professionals can work together to equip kids with ways to make sense of the world.
For more support and information on autism and early intervention, please visit the Medina County Board of Developmental Disabilities website at http://www.mcbmrdd.org/services/.