Saturday, April 11, 2009

Know the signs...

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, I wanted to share some really important information with you. As many of you know, our son Will has autism. We first noticed signs when he was around 18 months old and we immediately enrolled him in early intervention therapy services. One thing we know about kids like Will is that early intervention is key. With 1 in 150 children now being diagnosed (for boys, the number is closer to 1 in 90), it's important for you to know the signs and red flags. If you notice any of these things in your child, please make your concerns known to your pediatrician.

The following information is available at

These are autism "red flags" - if you notice any of these, make sure you discuss them with your child's doctor:

No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by nine months or thereafter
No babbling by 12 months
No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving by 12 months
No words by 16 months
No two-word meaningful phrases (without imitating or repeating) by 24 months
Any loss of speech or babbling or social skills at any age

The following are typical developmental milestones children should be meeting:

By 3-4 months
Watches faces with interest and follows moving objects
Recognizes familiar objects and people; smiles at the sound of your voice
Begins to develop a social smile-
Turns head toward sounds

By 7 Months
Responds to other people's emotions
Enjoys face-to-face play; can find partially hidden objects
Explores with hands and mouth; struggles for out of reach objects
Responds to own name
Uses voice to express joy and displeasure; babbles chains of sounds

By 12 Months/1 Year
Enjoys imitating people; tries to imitate sounds
Enjoys simple social games, such as “gonna get you!”
Explores objects; finds hidden objects
Responds to “no;” uses simple gestures, such as pointing to an object
Babbles with changes in tone; may use single words (“dada,”“mama,” “Uh-oh!”)
Turns to person speaking when his/her name is called.

By 24 Months/2 Years
Imitates behavior of others; is excited about company of other children
Understands several words
Finds deeply hidden objects; points to named pictures and objects
Begins to sort by shapes and colors; begins simple make-believe play
Recognizes names of familiar people and objects; follows simple instructions
Combines two words to communicate with others, such as “more cookie?”

By 36 Months/3 Years
Expresses affection openly and has a wide range of emotions
Makes mechanical toys work; plays make-believe
Sorts objects by shape and color, matches objects to pictures
Follows a 2- or 3-part command; uses simple phrases to communicate with others, such as “go outside, swing?”
Uses pronouns (I, you, me) and some plurals (cars, dogs)

By 48 Months/4 Years
Cooperates with other children; is increasingly inventive in fantasy play
Names some colors; understands concepts of counting and time
Speaks in sentences of five to six words
Tells stories; speaks clearly enough for strangers to understand
Follows three-part commands; understands "same" and "different"

By 60 Months/5 Years
Wants to be like his/her friends; likes to sing, dance, and act
Is able to distinguish fantasy from reality
Shows increased independence
Can count 10 or more objects and correctly name at least four colors
Speaks in sentences of more than five words; tells longer stories

There is a stigma attached to autism - I think most of us picture the character from the movie Rain Main. But autism is a spectrum disorder, which means it comes in many different forms. Some of those affected by the disorder have severe problems, while others (like my husband Ryan who I swear is on the spectrum) might have some learning and/or socialization issues.

It's important to note that Will actually developed like most typical children and reached many of his developmental milestones on time. I remember looking at autism checklists when Will was younger and was certain he wasn't on the spectrum because he was developing normally in so many ways. The biggest issue we have with him is his communication - Will's language development is around that of a child in the 18 - 24 months range. So while Will is no Rain Man, he definitely has issues that will continue to be a challenge for him, but we're certain that with continued therapy and support, he'll be mainstreamed and will live a completely normal and happy life!


sammy said...

all i can think of his how bad i CANNOT stand michael savage!

Dawn said...

Yeah, he's an idiot!