“Can you just start from the beginning? What if I'm concerned about my child. Or, what if I take my kid in for his well check and POW! the doctor hits me with AUTISM? What the *&^*&^*^^ do I do?"
Great question! Let's begin at the beginning...
So, you have a beautiful, wonderful, exceptionally magnificent child but something does not feel right and you're concerned about autism. What should you do? First and foremost, trust yourself. You know your child best. Don't wait - early intervention is critical! Support can make a huge difference at any age but getting it as early as possible is the goal and a good place to start is with your pediatrician.
Call your pediatrician right away and make an appointment to talk about your concerns. Lighten the load and get some information. One of the parents I work with in my private practice gave me a good tip to pass along - write your specific concerns down so you don't forget them under the stress of the doctor's visit.
Now if your doctor says, "Boys are just late bloomers... You're just being paranoid. He's fine!" Don't be tempted to let go of your concern. Unfortunately, not all pediatricians are knowledgeable about autism and often parents are told not to worry and to wait it out. In general this is a bad, bad, bad idea! Over 80% of parents whose children have autism knew something was going on in the first year of their children's lives!
Hopefully your pediatrician hears your concern and is prepared to do an autism screening (usually the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, Revised with Follow-Up (M-CHAT-R). On the other hand, if your doctor doesn't offer to do a screening or you have not had any concerns and all of a sudden POW! the doctor brings up autism I recommend you ask her to complete an autism screening. This screening should give you good information to move forward.
Okay, so you and your doctor completed the autism screening and it confirms your child does show signs of having autism. Remember a positive screening for autism is not a diagnosis of autism. The next step should be a referral to your local early intervention agency (for 0-3 year olds) or public school system (for children over 3) and a referral for a thorough evaluation to provide a medical diagnosis of autism, if appropriate.
All communities are going to have an early intervention program and a public school system. The quantity and the quality of services provided to children with autism varies a lot but at least basic services are going to be free and are available to everyone, even if you are not a citizen! A good evaluation by a medical team and therapists maybe harder to find, but your pediatrician can give an initial diagnosis to allow your child access to medical and school based services.
This video follows one child with autism until he is 7. It is a great example of early signs and the power of early intervention! If it doesn't play properly just click on the video page http://www.brightfuturesaei.com/youtube-channel/ find the picture of the two boys playing and you'll be ready to roll.
Contact your local early intervention or public school for information and services. It is their job to help you!
For more info on early signs of autism, early intervention and/or the public schools contact Zoe@BrightFuturesAEI.com
Here's to Bright Futures for all children!
#Autism #BrightFutures #ABA #Advocacy