Current statistics show that 1 in 45 school age children in the U.S. has an Autism diagnosis according to the Centers for Disease Control. It has long been widely believed that early intervention can improve the outcome for a child.According to Autism Speaks, Early Intervention programming can result in at least four benefits:
- Provide your child with instruction that will build on his or her strengths to teach new skills
- Improve behaviors
- Provide parents and caregivers with information to help better understand a child’s behavior and needs.
- Offer resources, support, and training that will enable caregivers to work and play with your child more effectively.
For these reasons, an early diagnosis can help yield the best results. While the average age that a child is diagnosed with autism is four years old, many signs of autism can be recognized much earlier. Here are some early signs of autism that can be seen as early as infancy.
Five Early Signs of Autism
- Visual fixations. Persistently staring at particular objects in an unusual way
- Repetitive behaviors. This can lead to lining up toys or other objects, but may start with repeatedly engaging with an object in the same way: rolling something back and forth, or just spending long periods of time engaging in one behavior over and over.
- Delayed sound development or lack of age-appropriate sounds such as “ma ma, da da, ba ba”.
- Delayed intentional communication. No change in facial expressions; little or no attmept to gain a parent’s attention through expression or gestures.
- Lack of interest in interacting with other people. Spending more time engaging with objects or toys and not showing interest in age-appropriate games and interactions with adults such as peek-a-boo.
While these are some early signs of autism, a child may display some of these and not have an autism diagnosis. The number and severity of symptoms between different children can vary greatly and one child may not present in the same way as another. However, if you have concerns, pleae consult your child’s pediatrician and ask for a developmental screening. In the United States, each state has early intervention programming available. Visit the CDC’s Early Intervention page for more information on services in your state.