I saw the signs…

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“I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes, I saw the sign
Life is demanding without understanding
I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes, I saw the sign
No one’s gonna drag you up to get into the light where you    belong. But where do you belong?” (Ace of Base)


There are two steps for screening autism. First is the developmental screening, second a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation.

The first two years of a baby’s life are crucial for his/her growth and development. During this period you will take your baby to the pediatrician for check-ups, also known as well child visits. On those appointments, the doctor or a nurse will always measure baby’s length, weight and head circumference. The doctor will also make observations of your child’s behaviors, ask you about baby’s milestones typical to his/her age at the time and ask you if you have any concerns. Here is where the first step of a screening happens. Developmental screening is a short test to tell if children are learning basic skills when they should, or if they might have delays. During developmental screening the doctor might ask the parent some questions or talk and play with the child during an exam to see how she learns, speaks, behaves, and moves. A delay in any of these areas could be a sign of a problem. I didn’t know the questions our pediatrician was asking had anything to do with autism screening, I knew she was trying to make sure he was developing the way he was supposed to, but it never crossed my mind she was asking those question to make sure he was not in the spectrum. It was not until the 9 months appointment that she mention the questions she was to assess him for autism, and she also assured me he had passed every single one of them so far.

All children should be screened for developmental delays and disabilities during regular well-child doctor visit. According to the CDC, here are some signs that show some indication of a developmental delay and that should be mentioned to a doctor for further investigation. Most of them are red flags for autism. You should talk to your pediatrician if your baby:

At 6 months
·         Doesn’t try to get things that are within reach
·         Shows no affection for caregivers
·         Doesn’t respond to sounds around him
·         Has difficulty getting things to mouth
·         Doesn’t make vowel sounds (“ah”, “eh”, “oh”)
·         Doesn’t roll over in either direction
·         Doesn’t laugh or make squealing sounds
·         Seems very stiff, with tight muscles
·         Seems very floppy, like a rag doll

At 9 months
·         Doesn’t bear weight on legs with support
·         Doesn’t sit with help
·         Doesn’t babble (“mama”, “baba”, “dada”)
·         Doesn’t play any games involving back-and-forth play
·         Doesn’t respond to own name
·         Doesn’t seem to recognize familiar people
·         Doesn’t look where you point
·         Doesn’t transfer toys from one hand to the other

At 12 months
·         Doesn’t crawl
·         Can’t stand when supported
·         Doesn’t search for things that she sees you hide
·         Doesn’t say single words like “mama” or “dada” (Guto said mama and dada, but never meaning to call us)
·         Doesn’t learn gestures like waving or shaking head
·         Doesn’t point to things (Guto would not point with an index finger)

At 18 months
·         Doesn’t point to show things to others (Again, not pointing with an index finger)
·         Can’t walk
·         Doesn’t know what familiar things are for
·         Doesn’t copy others
·         Doesn’t gain new words
·         Doesn’t have at least 6 words
·         Doesn’t notice or mind when a caregiver leaves or returns 

At 24 months
·         Doesn’t use 2-word phrases (for example, “drink milk”)
·         Doesn’t know what to do with common things, like a brush, phone, fork, spoon
·         Doesn’t copy actions and words
·         Doesn’t follow simple instructions
·         Doesn’t walk steadily

*The signs Guto was showing are bold

IMPORTANT: You should talk to your doctor if at any time your child loses a skill he/she once had, no matter what age!

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