April is World Autism Awareness Month and is held in recognition of people living with Autism. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Autism affects an estimated 1 in 59 children in the United States today.
WHAT IS AUTISM?
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a wide range of conditions characterized by challenges with social interaction, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. Signs of autism usually appear by age two or three, but some developmental delays can appear, and often be diagnosed, as early as 18 months.
Every individual on the autism spectrum is unique and can display a different set of behaviors. Many symptoms are common in both adults and children yet present themselves differently throughout the lifespan. Autism looks different for every person and affects everyone differently – that’s why it’s called a “spectrum.”
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF AUTISM?
(The information below is not meant to diagnose or treat. It should not take the place of consultation with a qualified healthcare professional.)
BY 6 MONTHS
- Few or no big smiles or other warm, happy or engaging expressions
- Limited or no eye contact
BY 9 MONTHS
- Little or no meaningful sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions
BY 12 MONTHS
- Little or no babbling
- Little or no meaningful gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving
- Little or no response to their name
BY 16 MONTHS
- Very few or no words
BY 24 MONTHS
- Very few or no meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating)
AT ANY AGE
- Avoidance of eye contact
- Delayed language development
- Repetitive behaviors (flapping, rocking, spinning, etc.)
- Loss of previously acquired speech, babbling or social skills
- Persistent preference for solitude
- Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings
- Persistent repetition of words or phrases
- Resistance to minor changes in routine or surroundings
- Restricted interests
- Unusual and intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and colors
If you think your child may be showing signs of Autism, it is important to consult with your doctor. Research shows that early detection and intervention leads to positive outcomes later in life for people with Autism.
And don’t delay a visit to the dentist if you are concerned with how your child may react. The pediatric dentists and orthodontic specialists at Alameda Pediatric Dentistry welcome all children in our office and have created a comfortable environment for them to call their dental home. We reserve quieter times for patients who thrive with a less stimulating environment and have private rooms with dim lights to create a calmer atmosphere. We carry several tactile and sensory toys to help alleviate anxiety and provide a safe space for our patients to get used to coming for their check-ups.
We understand children with special needs may have specific triggers that could make their first appointment more challenging, and we’ll work together with you to find solutions that will keep your child calm and comfortable.
If you are interested in learning about desensitization visits or would like more information about how we can make your child’s first visit as seamless as possible, please give us a call!