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Determining autism in children

Programs and Services

In our current world of social media, we are quick to post updates about our children.  When they walk, their first words, playdates with their friends.  While it can be great to stay so connected, it seems that this is also increasing parent’s concerns about their children and if they are developing appropriately.  Seeing a similar aged child meeting developmental milestones sooner than your child can often cause parents to worry.  It is important to remember that children follow their own timelines of development, and slight variances are not usually a cause for concern.  But what is typical, and what are some potential red flags when it comes to autism?

Signs of autism

According to the National Institute of Health, possible signs of autism may begin to be detected around 12 months of age or so.  Some common things to look for around a child’s first birthday include if they respond to their name, if they point at something they want or if they wave.  Some children may show a regression in language development and social skills. Children with autism may not smile when someone smiles at them.  They may not make eye contact with others and many show a preference to play independently rather than with other children.  Children with autism tend to seem like they are “in their own world,” and might not seek out attention from others.

Other possible signs of autism include:

  • Repeating the same action over and over,
  • Becoming obsessed with particular objects or routines,
  • Lining their toys up in a specific order and/or moving in odd and unusual ways.
  • Walking on tip toes is also a common sign of autism.
  • Violent outbursts or tantrums may also be present.

It is important to note that neurotypical children may display some of these behaviors as well.  If a parent has a concern about their child’s development, the first step would be to discuss their observations with the child’s pediatrician.  The pediatrician can help determine if there is a cause for concern and if additional screening is necessary.

Autism testing

At the Arc of Monroe, we offer testing to help determine if someone meets the criteria for autism spectrum disorder.  We use a diagnostic instrument called the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, (ADOS-2). There are different modules used and screening can be done from toddlerhood through adulthood.

Early detection and diagnosis can help families get on the right track with services.  Early intervention can be vital in helping children to develop their skills and increase their chances for success.

Click here for more information on autism testing at our Article 16 Clinic.

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Jennifer Parks

Jennifer Parks, LMSW, is the Clinical Assessment Specialist at the Arc of Monroe’s Article 16 Clinic.