Don’t be like me.
Don’t just wait and see if your child grows out of the delays or behaviors you are concerned about. I didn’t learn how important early intervention is until after getting our son’s autism diagnosis at the age of 5.
Sure, I did address our worries about my son’s language delay with his pediatrician. We did have my son in speech therapy. But we all were just waiting… waiting to see how things progressed. And because our pediatrician was not pushing screenings or acting concerned, we didn’t know we needed to be.
I thought we were doing everything we could.
I agreed that I thought our son would grow out of it and would catch up, but there was also somewhere in the back of my mind that thought maybe he could have autism. The truth is, I should have asked for the screening.
Don’t wait for someone to offer.
If you think there might be a chance your child has autism, push for the screening. It’s scary. Your husband or partner may even be opposed to it, but you can do it. Screening for autism is not a diagnosis, but a tool to see if a child is at risk and may need further evaluation.
Why not just wait and see?
Why is early intervention at ages 2 or 3 being encouraged now instead of just waiting until kids start school at 4 or 5? Early autism intervention is important because children can benefit from it more while their brains are developing the most. The sooner you can get your child help the greater the outcome will be. That means behaviors will improve, skills may strengthen, and IQs can be higher.
Also, it very well may not be autism, but there may be something else going on that still needs to be identified and addressed.
If you do end up with an autism diagnosis, it will be okay.
Even though I went through the stages of grief after my son’s diagnosis and it took several months, I ended up at acceptance. So did my husband. Our son is still the same kid he was before. Autism isn’t a label but a way for me to have more information to know how to help my child.
While I have friends and family members with children with autism, I’m embarrassed about how little I actually knew about it. It is a spectrum with three main components (social, communication, restricted or repetitive behavior). All individuals fall different places for each component on the spectrum. Whatever you have pictured of autism in your mind probably only applies to the one person you are thinking of.
So where do you start?
- View a list of early signs of autism by clicking here, and complete this checklist by clicking here.
- Besides discussing with your pediatrician, you can also contact SoonerStart. SoonerStart is through the state and provides screenings (not just for autism) for all children up to 36 months. Click here for more information.
- You can also contact the Oklahoma Autism Center about their Early Access Program by clicking here. They collaborate with agencies statewide to connect families with screening resources.