My Child Has Autism How Can I Help
When your child is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, there’s a lot to learn. You’re faced with new terms like “early intervention” and “positive behavior support.” It’s normal to feel overwhelmed.
But don’t worry you’re not alone. Many parents have walked this path before. Many resources and support services are available to you.
Our 7-step checklist can help you find the best path forward. Learn about next steps for your baby, toddler, or preschooler.
Use Of Information Collected From You
Signs Of Social Difficulties
- Appears disinterested or unaware of other people or whats going on around them.
- Doesnt know how to connect with others, play, or make friends.
- Prefers not to be touched, held, or cuddled.
- Doesnt play pretend games, engage in group games, imitate others, or use toys in creative ways.
- Has trouble understanding feelings or talking about them.
- Doesnt seem to hear when others talk to them.
- Doesnt share interests or achievements with others .
Basic social interaction can be difficult for children with autism spectrum disorder. Many kids on the autism spectrum seem to prefer to live in their own world, aloof and detached from others.
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Examples Of How To Use The Checklist:
Fig 4: Examples of how this Autism Symptoms Checklist should be used
Whether or not you see repetitive patterns, it is important to make a note of the contributing factors. This may seem tedious at first however, the information that you and you alone can gather is invaluable if your child needs a formal assessment. You know your child! Therefore, the inputs that you provide would be crucial for the physician to prescribe the right developmental tools for your child.
You can either bookmark and print this page or by clicking the pdf link on your left. Make sure you have enough copies and create a folder to store the results in. Be sure to date the form for future references.
Table 1: The Autism Symptoms Checklist Identifying the 60 signs of Autism in kids
As you can see outside influences or events such as moving, adding a new sibling to the family may have an influence on your childs behavior. I highly recommend repeating the assessment in these instances every month! It takes any child time to accommodate these changes to their lives and daily schedules. However, you dont want to pass this off as just because when there might just be an underlying complication. Early diagnosis, treatment, and therapy that ensures your child the best possible future!
In Case You Spot Any Abnormalities
- First assessment to be completed when the child is 18 months old
- If results are not fully normal, the next assessment should happen when the child is 20 months old.
- This time keep a close eye on any improvements as compared to the previous screening.
- If you believe your child may have autism, refer to the end of this article to take a formal Autism Test
Get Support When You Need It
Life with a young child with autism can be overwhelming. So it’s important to take breaks and ask for help when you need it. This may be hard to do at first, but it will allow you to devote more time and energy to your family.
So, ask a family member for help with things like laundry or meal planning. Trade off with your partner watching your child so that each of you can get much-needed “me time.” Hire a sitter who feels comfortable caring for your child or consider respite care so that you can go out for a night.
Taking time for yourself can help you recharge. You’ll come back to your child ready for fun, love, and all that parenthood has to offer.
Learn About Your Child’s Needs
Kids with autism might have language delays or trouble communicating with others. They may have unusual or repetitive behaviors, or troubles with learning. No two kids with autism are alike and, as the parent, you’re the expert on your child.
So, when talking to doctors or therapists, ask lots of questions. Tell them your concerns. If you’re not happy with the answers, consider getting a second opinion.
Some kids with autism have other conditions like seizures, gastrointestinal problems, and trouble sleeping. If you have any health concerns, tell your doctor. Your child may need to see a specialist and have tests.
When you feel comfortable with your child’s autism diagnosis, learn about treatment options that may include therapy and education services.
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Signs Of Nonverbal Communication Difficulties
- Avoids eye contact.
- Uses facial expressions that dont match what they are saying
- Doesnt pick up on other peoples facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures.
- Makes very few gestures . May come across as cold or robot-like.
- Reacts unusually to sights, smells, textures, and sounds. May be especially sensitive to loud noises. Can also be unresponsive to people entering/leaving, as well as efforts by others to attract the childs attention.
- Atypical posture, clumsiness, or eccentric ways of moving .
Children with autism spectrum disorder have trouble picking up on subtle nonverbal cues and using body language. This makes the give-and-take of social interaction very difficult.
What To Do If Youre Worried
If your child is developmentally delayed, or if youve observed other red flags for autism, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician right away. In fact, its a good idea to have your child screened by a doctor even if he or she is hitting the developmental milestones on schedule. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children receive routine developmental screenings, as well as specific screenings for autism at 9, 18, and 30 months of age.
Schedule an autism screening. A number of specialized screening tools have been developed to identify children at risk for autism. Most of these screening tools are quick and straightforward, consisting of yes-or-no questions or a checklist of symptoms. Your pediatrician should also get your feedback regarding your childs behavior.
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Plan Playdates And Social Time
It’s important for kids with autism to socialize with their peers, even if sometimes it can be challenging for them. Playdates and other activities are some much-needed chances to practice social skills and make new friends. Those who are struggling can sign up for a social skills group, which helps with things like introducing yourself, talking to others, reading social cues, and more.
When helping your child choose a playmate, look for someone who shares the same interests. Pre-plan the activities , and avoid places with too much noise and stimulation if you think it will overwhelm your child. Let your child know what to expect ahead of time. Consider using a visual schedule with pictures or create social stories to help “tell ahead” what will happen during a playdate.
Find Out About Health Coverage
Therapy to help with the symptoms of autism can help kids thrive, but not all are covered by insurance. Coverage depends on your state and it’s not always easy to figure out.
Here are ways to learn what is covered:
- Talk to a social worker on your care team to learn about special programs available to your child.
- Search online for tools that take the guesswork out of health coverage. Some national autism organizations provide helpful quizzes and other tools to learn what’s covered in your state or health care plan.
If you don’t have insurance, your state’s CHIP or Medicaid programs may offer coverage to your child. Medicaid also may be able to offer extra coverage if your health insurance doesn’t cover all expenses. Coverage is based on your child’s disability and need, not on your family’s income.
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Referral To Autism Sa By A Gp Or Health Professional
Your General Practitioner or another healthcare professional can also refer you to Autism SA for an autism assessment.
It might be that the case you have sought advice from your doctor after observing some signs and characteristics of autism in your son or a boy in your care, or someone you know with experience of autism has suggested that you seek some professional help.
It is, however, important to understand that GPs are not qualified to undertake an autism test, nor to diagnose autism. Nevertheless, they will ask you questions about your childs development, and may undertake screening and observations to determine whether an assessment for autism is appropriate, or to help them rule out other possible health or developmental issues.
If your GP or another healthcare professional decides to make a referral to Autism SA on your behalf, they will be required to complete a Diagnostic Assessment Referral form, and so will likely need your assistance with some of the background information the form requires.
Should I Get An Autism Assessment
If your son or a child in your care is exhibiting some of the characteristics associated with being on the spectrum, it may be helpful both in the short and long term to seek professional advice as early as possible.
Although this may prompt feelings of uncertainty or unease, speaking to a qualified healthcare professional early on can help you better to understand your childs development, as well as assist you in identifying what services may support your child.
If through working with a qualified healthcare professional your child receives an autism diagnosis, it can help you as a parent better to understand your childs needs, and how you can support them as they develop. Your son may also develop a greater sense of their self-identity knowing that there are other children of their age whose lived experience is similar to their own.
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Checklist: Autism Spectrum Disorders Symptoms And Signs
This ASD symptom checklist is a tool to help parents, doctors, and mental health practitioners discuss symptoms, behaviors, and needs that might relate to Autism Spectrum Disorder.
It is not intended as a diagnostic tool, but rather, to support discussion and potential evaluation. The checklist was developed by Hannah Grieco M.Ed., an education and disability advocate. of the checklist from Parenting Pod.
Source: Parenting Pod | Checklist: Autism Spectrum Disorders Symptoms and Signs, https://parentingpod.com/autism-symptoms-checklist-children-teens | Copyright 2016-2021 Parenting Pod. Used with permission.
To schedule an evaluation or to get advice about your childs challenges, call or email a CHC Care Coordinator at 650.688.3625 or
Signs Of Autism In Boys
It is becoming recognised that there may be a difference in the way that characteristics of autism present in girls and boys, with a possible result being that boys tend to be diagnosed at an earlier age.
While everyones experiences of autism are different, there are nevertheless characteristics that boys on the spectrum are likely to display in two domains:
- Social communication and social interaction
- Repetitive or restricted behaviour, interests or activities
The checklist below is a guide and it is not expected that any individual would display all of these characteristics.
Please also note that the information below is simply a list of some of the common signs and characteristics of autism, and is not intended to be comprehensive or definitive. It is also important to keep in mind that what follows is a brief summary, and that only trained, accredited specialists can make a diagnosis of autism.
If a boy is displaying a number of these characteristics, it is advised to consult with a qualified healthcare professional.
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Screening And Diagnosis Of Autism Spectrum Disorder For Healthcare Providers
Developmental screening can be done by a number of professionals in health care, community, and school settings. However, primary health care providers are in a unique position to promote childrens developmental health.
Primary care providers have regular contact with children before they reach school age and are able to provide family-centered, comprehensive, coordinated care, including a more complete medical assessment when a screening indicates a child is at risk for a developmental problem.
Look For Support At School
Many kids with autism spectrum disorder are diagnosed by age 3 and receive early intervention services. When they turn 3, they’re eligible for additional services at their local school district with the help of an individualized education program .
The IEP may include therapy for speech/language, behavior, or sensory concerns. In school, kids might get extra support through a classroom aide or during a “lunch bunch” or social skills group.
Parents meet with an IEP team to determine a child’s needs. While you can’t insist on certain services, you can appeal the IEP if you feel that the plan doesn’t meet your child’s needs. The IEP is reviewed and updated each year, but you can ask for updates before that to make sure your child is meeting goals.
Not all kids with autism need an IEP. Those who do not qualify for an IEP can get educational assistance through a 504 education plan, which provides for accommodations in a regular classroom that improve a child’s learning experience.
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What Are Some Early Signs And Symptoms Of Autism To Watch Out For
Autism symptoms are broken down into three sections by the Centers for Disease Control . These sections include social interactions and communication skills, repetitive patterns and restrictive behaviors, and other characteristics.
Often when there are questions and concerns in relation to a childs development and they seem to have a hard time with social interactions, or they display common signs of autism like flapping hands or repetitive patterns, there is potential for a formal assessment to be done.
The social and interactive autism symptoms to look out for in children which could mean you need to pursue an assessment include:
- avoiding eye contact
Join Social Groups Or Schedule Playdates
As your child grows, find chances to socialize with peers and practice the skills learned in therapy. Parents of toddlers or preschoolers may consider joining a “Mommy and Me” class or schedule neighborhood play dates. These meet-ups can be a valuable learning opportunity for your child.
If possible, sign your child up for social skills training classes. These are specifically for kids who need extra help interacting with others. Kids learn about things like making eye contact, taking turns, and sharing. Most classes are led by a therapist or social worker, and might be covered by insurance or offered as part of IEP.
And don’t forget about social opportunities for yourself or your other kids. Many areas have support groups for parents or siblings of kids with autism. Being around others who are going through similar challenges can help you learn new ways of coping.
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Developmental Screening In Pediatric And Primary Care Practice
Integrating routine developmental screening into the practice setting can seem daunting. Following are suggestions for integrating screening services into primary care efficiently and at low cost, while ensuring thorough coordination of care.
An example of how developmental screening activities might flow in your clinic:
Involving Families in Screening
Research indicates that parents are reliable sources of information about their childrens development. Evidence-based screening tools that incorporate parent reports can facilitate structured communication between parents and providers to discover parent concerns, increase parent and provider observations of the childs development, and increase parent awareness. Such tools can also be time- and cost-efficient in clinical practice settings.2,3,4 A 1998 analysis found that, depending on the instrument, the time for administering a screening tool ranged from about 2 to 15 minutes, and the cost of materials and administration ranged from $1.19 to $4.60 per visit.5
Autism First Signs: A Checklist For Primary School Age Children
School can be a busy environment for children. There are generally long, unstructured days, lots of verbal information to process, other children to navigate interactions with, boisterous playground activity to negotiate and different sights, sounds, smells and noises to process.
For some children particularly those on the autism spectrum these experiences can be challenging and sometimes overwhelming.
Some children on the spectrum are often diagnosed during their primary school years, when it becomes more obvious that their communication, social interaction and behavioural traits are different to those of their peers.
Children on the spectrum may find it challenging to make friendships, take part in conversations or find common interests with other children.
You may have noticed a few red flags in your childs development in their pre-school years, and may now have continuing or new concerns about behaviours you are seeing, or have been told by other parents or teachers.
But how do you know what typical development is, or development that might signal your child is on the autism spectrum?
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When To Start Seeking Resources And Assessment
Every individual is different and parents know their children the best. If there are any concerns the parent notices behaviorally or filling out the screening tool provided during Well-Child visits , they could talk to their childs doctor.
Another instance could be: if the childs doctor brings up red flags and different potential developmental disorders, it could be time to seek outside help. This is usually when the doctor refers out for the autism assessment or screening.
It can be daunting to hear that a child is having difficulties reaching certain milestones. It can also be a challenge for many adults to find out that their child is going to need to be assessed and many ask themselves, how will their child respond?
This can be stressful, but the process of the assessment is pretty straightforward, and the professionals working with children are used to neurodiverse children from different backgrounds.