Early Signs and Symptoms of Autism

When my son Jack was born, I remember eagerly anticipating that first doctor’s appointment. I had so many questions and two weeks to try and navigate those overwhelming newborn days seemed like a lifetime.

When we finally did get to that appointment, the questions and concerns just poured out of me. When would he be more alert? Was it ok that he slept all day and cried all night? When would he smile? Was everything ok?

My doctor, thankfully, an incredibly kind, patient man and a father himself, took my rambling nervous questions in stride. He still does, nearly three years later.
“Yes,” he always says. “That’s normal.”

But what happens when things aren’t normal? What happens when you have that nagging fear that something with your child just isn’t right?

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are a group of developmental disabilities caused by a problem with the brain. Autistic disorder is the most common disorder under the umbrella of ASDs but there are others, including pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger Syndrome.

There is a range of how much it impacts a person’s functioning, but can be from very mild to severe. Usually, there is nothing about how a person with an ASD looks that sets them apart from other people, but they may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most people.

A child or adult with an ASD might:

• Prefer not to cuddle or be held
• Lose skills they once had (for instance, stop using words they once were using)
• Avoid eye contact and wants to be alone
• Appear to be unaware when other people talk to them but respond to other sounds
• Have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions
• Repeat actions over and over again
• Have trouble adapting when a routine changes
• Have unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel or sound

“The first and best resource is to talk to your pediatrician,” speech and language pathologist and Children’s Village autism coordinator Cindy Carroll said.
Another resource we are lucky to have in the Yakima Valley is to call Children’s Village.

“Children’s Village is here to coordinate and support families,” Carroll said. “The pathway to screening and diagnosis is exhaustive but fluid.”

Last year, 79 children were seen through the multi-disciplinary autism diagnostic clinic and 252 children received multidisciplinary autism diagnostic services since 2006. The multidisciplinary diagnostic clinic is particularly unique as it is only one of 6 in Washington State.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Family support groups, children’s activities, medical specialty clinics, and so much more happen through Children’s Village.

If you have questions or concerns about your child, talk to your doctor or call Children’s Village at (509) 574-3200.

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