One in 68 U.S. children has an autism spectrum disorder, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, according to the CDC, the average age of diagnosis is 4-5 years, but a reliable autism diagnosis can be made as early as 18-24 months. Experts say that early detection is critical. Research shows, however, that low-income families, blacks and Hispanics generally receive diagnoses much later – often delaying critical treatment.
The following “red flags” from Autism Speaks may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, please don’t delay in asking your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation:
- 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
- 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 meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
- Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age
Finally, April is autism Awareness Month. Earlier in the month, Autism Speaks co-sponsored a “Spin For Safety” fitness event to raise funds for safety kits to be provided to autistic children who are prone to wandering. The event was organized by Arielle Patrick, a New York woman who was galvanized to action by the disappearance of Avonte Oquendo – a severely autistic boy who went missing in October after wandering away from his school. Oquendo’s remains were found months later.