Autism spectrum disorder: How and when kids are screened
Aspire to be Healthy
BY SONIYA PAWAR, MD
Aspirus Rhinelander Clinic
Do you worry sometimes about the way your toddler acts? Are you concerned your tyke does things differently from other kids his or her own age?
Your child may be perfectly fine—all children develop in different ways. But you should tell your child’s provider about your concerns. Some issues may suggest a developmental problem, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). And if that’s the case, finding the problem as early as possible can help your youngster a lot.
What is ASD?
ASD is a neurologic disability that affects how kids communicate, behave and learn, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). It affects about 1 in 68 children in the U.S. Recently experts began calling it a spectrum disorder (instead of just autism) because the symptoms can range from mild to severe.
ASD is a lifelong condition. But research shows that early intervention programs can help kids live their best with the disorder, reports the AAP. Such interventions typically address the disorder’s symptoms.
For this reason, many providers screen all babies at 18 and 24-months-old for ASD at their well-child checkups. They also check for developmental delays from the very first visit. During an exam, the provider might watch how your child behaves and moves, among other things. And you might be asked some questions about your child.
What are some warning signs?
Parents play a big part in identifying ASD, too. Again, if you have any concerns about how your child talks or acts, bring them up with your provider. For example, many children with ASD:
•Don’t make eye contact, respond to their names or smile back.
•Have trouble following another person’s gaze.
•Have difficulty with nonverbal communication, such as smiling or waving goodbye.
•Babble like you’d expect as infants but suddenly stop before they turn two years old.
•Seem to tune out others.
•Have unusual behaviors. For instance, some kids rock back and forth or spend a lot of time lining things up or putting things in a certain order.
If ASD is suspected?
Your child may see a specialist for a comprehensive evaluation. There is no single medical test for ASD. Doctors diagnose it, in part, by watching a child’s behaviors.
Additional sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Institutes of Health
Soniya Pawar, MD, is a physician specializing in pediatrics at Aspirus Rhinelander Clinic located at 1630 N. Chippewa Drive. She is devoted to providing exceptional health care to people of all ages, from newborns to teenagers. To request a pediatric appointment with Dr. Pawar, please call Aspirus Rhinelander Clinic at 715-361-5480.