Autism is a severe disability, which is observed during the first three years of life. It exists in every culture, race, religion and every socio-economic level all over the world.
It affects communication, which is either absent or delayed. Children also exhibit unusual (stereotypic) repetitive behaviors, frequent tantrums and, in some cases, self injury. They appear to be in their own world and some avoid or do not enjoy touch. Others, though, can be affectionate and enjoy many forms of interaction.
Children on the autistic spectrum show limited eye contact. Children may react to sound and light in unusual ways. They usually do not play appropriately with toys, and some do not show interest in other toddlers. Some also have either physical and/or occupational therapy delays.
Autism is a broad-spectrum disorder with some children more delayed or affected than others. Children can also have physical delays or delays in communication without being on the autistic spectrum, which can make early diagnosis difficult at an early age.
Autism is found in every country and region of the world, and in families of all racial, ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds. Emerging in childhood, it now affects about 1 in 100 children and is three to four times more common in boys than girls. The cost of health and educational services to those affected is enormous. So, at some level, autism affects us all.
There is help – and hope. Gone are the days when people with autism were isolated, typically sent away to special schools, and later to institutions. Today, many youngsters are mainstreamed in some or all classes. Every child improves at their own pace, some more than others – But all can improve with the benefit of ABA and one-to-one teaching at the earliest age when the window of opportunity is greatest. Methods, such as ABA – the approved method of choice by NY State DOH – are available to help improve their social, language, and academic skills. Programs like ours are beginning to demonstrate that every child can make progress and can meet his or her future potential to be a productive member of society.
As they grow, children are always learning new things. These are just some of the things you should be looking for as your child grows. Because every child develops at his or her own pace, your child may reach these milestones slightly before or after other children the same age. Use this checklist as a guide, and if you have any concerns, talk with your child’s doctor or nurse.
By the end of 7 months, many children are able to:
- turn head when name is called
- smile back at another person
- respond to sound with sounds
- enjoy social play (such as peek-a-boo)
By the end of 1 year (12 months), many children are able to:
- use simple gesturers (waving “bye-bye”)
- make sounds such as “ma” and “da”
- imitate actions in their play (clap when you clap)
- respond when told “no”
By the end of 1 ½ years (18 months), many children are able to:
- do simple pretend play (“talk” on a toy phone)
- point to interesting objects
- look at object when you point at it and tell them to “look!”
- use several single words unprompted
By the end of 2 years (24 months), many children are able to:
- use 2- to 4-word phrases
- follow simple instructions
- become more interested in other children
- point to object or picture when named
By the end of 3 years (36 months), many children are able to:
- show affection for playmates
- use 4- to 5-word sentences
- imitate adults and playmates (run when other children run)
- play make-believe with dolls, animals, and people (“feed” a teddy bear)
By the end of 4 years (48 months), many children are able to:
- use 5- to 6-word sentences
- follow 3-step commands (“Get dressed. Comb your hair, and wash your face.”)
- cooperate with other children
Questions to ask your child’s doctor or nurse:
- What can I do to keep track of my child’s development?
- What should I do if I’m worried about my child’s progress?
- Where can I go to get more information?
- Can you refer me to a specialist for more information?