Dear Fellow EB Parents:
There are similar pinned messages on the other toddler & kids' boards, but I want to target this one as well, especially in light of a lot of recent posts from parents who are worried about their child's development. (Forgive me for sounding like a broken record on this score, but this is a matter so near & dear to my heart!)
As a mother of two young kids, I can appreciate that there can be a fine line between fretting over every nuance of your child's development and being diligent in keeping an antenna up for possible issues.
When I first started worrying that something was slightly "off" about my daughter's development -- around the age of 12-15 months -- autism was nowhere on my radar screen!
Sure, my daughter seemed "different" when I compared her to other babies at playgroup, but she was also happy, smiling, and meeting all of her physical milestones. So I chalked up my concerns to being a paranoid, first time mother.
Everyone around me -- my well intentioned friends, family, online DIG, and even some medical professionals -- assured me that she was just "quirky," "sensitive" and "developing at her own speed..." which only reinforced my feeling that I was a stereotypical nervous mother. Nobody
encouraged me to explore my concerns further until, finally, more than a year later, two girlfriends intervened and gave me the courage to seek the opinion of a specialist.
For any of you who have niggling concerns about your own child, but need a gentle nudge to act upon them, I hope that this message will encourage you to trust your gut and take action. If you click on the link in my signature, you will see why I feel so passionately about this issue.
If you are worried about your child's development -- physical, social, speech issues, sensory sensitivities, whatever -- I encourage you to raise those concerns with a qualified professional. Your MCHN or GP should be able to do a relatively simple developmental screen to help set your mind at ease or validate that further exploration is needed.
If you are told "don't worry" yet you continue to feel in your gut that something isn't right, please don't be afraid to seek another opinion.
This link below sets forth Hallmark Development Milestones
for babies/toddlers. This can be a good launching off point for a discussion with a health care professional about your child's overall development.http://www.firstsigns.org/healthydev/milestones.htm
On a more specific note, here are some of the very early red flags for autism spectrum disorders, which are now THE most common developmental disorder in Australia. RED FLAGS FOR ASD IN BABIES/TODDLERS
Below are some of the early warning signs -- usually seen in the first two years -- of ASD. Some children will have many of these early warning signs, whereas others might have only a few. Also, any loss of social or language skills during this period is cause for concern.
* doesn't consistently respond to her name
* doesn't smile at caregivers
* doesn't use gestures independently -- for example, she doesn't wave bye-bye without being told to, or without copying someone else who is waving
* doesn't show interest in other children
* doesn't enjoy or engage in games such as peek-a-boo or patty cake.
* doesn't use gestures to get needs met -- for example, she doesn't raise her arms when she wants to be picked up or reach out to something that she wants
* doesn't use eye contact to get someone's attention or communicate -- for example, she doesn't look at a parent and then look at a snack to indicate she wants the snack
* doesn't point to show people things, to share an experience or to request or indicate that she wants something -- for example, when she's being read to, she doesn't point to pictures in books and look back to show the reader
* doesn't engage in pretend play -- for example, she doesn't feed her baby doll
* doesn't sound like she's having a conversation with you when she babbles
* doesn't understand simple one-step instructions -- for example, "Give the block to me" or "Show me the dog."
* has an intense interest in certain objects and becomes "stuck" on particular toys or objects
* focuses narrowly on objects and activities such as turning the wheels of a toy car or lining up objects
* is easily upset by change and must follow routines -- for example, sleeping, feeding or leaving the house must be done in the same way every time
* repeats body movements or has unusual body movements such as back-arching, hand-flapping and walking on toes.
* is extremely sensitive to sensory experiences -- for example, she is easily upset by certain sounds, or will only eat foods with a certain texture
*seeks sensory stimulation -- for example, she likes deep pressure, seeks vibrating objects like the washing machine, or flutters fingers to the side of her eyes to watch the light flicker.
Additionally, the University of California-San Diego's Autism Center of Excellence
, a world leader in research, early detection & early intervention, has some excellent, very easy-to-digest information on its web site:Identifying autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) at the earliest age possible is of the utmost importance because early treatment can be very beneficial to the child and his/her family.
Abnormalities in how babies acts socially, as well as how they pay attention to and interact with their non-social environment, may be early warning signs. A delay in speech alone generally does not signify autism, but in combination with other warning signs, could suggest that a toddler is at risk.
Below are early warning signs describing what children at risk for an ASD between 12-24 months generally don't do, as well as a description of what they might do. Note that it is very common for typically developing toddlers to also show some of the red flags listed below.
(to read the specific examples, please click on the link below - they complement the information above):
If any of the above resonates with you, it doesn't necessarily mean that your child has ASD, but it does suggest that further investigation is warranted. Your GP can refer you to a developmental paed, a specialist who focuses on the comprehensive (physical, emotional, behavioral) development of children.
There is so much that can be done to help children with ASD and other developmental issues reach their full potential, especially when these issues are caught early. Waiting lists for various professionals and various professionals can be long and funding support is overwhelming skewed toward young (below school age) children, hence another set of reasons to take action sooner rather than later.
In the words of my daughter's straight-shooting developmental pediatrician, "No child was ever harmed by an assessment or early intervention, but plenty of children could benefit from receiving timely support."
My daughter is wonderful proof of that!
Thanks for reading this far,
BMJTo learn more, check out:http://www.latrobe.edu.au/otarc/infohttp://www.firstsigns.org/http://raisingchildren.net.au/development/...evelopment.htmlhttp://www.autismawareness.com.au/
This post has been edited by baddmammajamma: 22/04/2013, 09:05 AM