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June 08, 2018

A Quick Guide to Autism for Worried Parents

Cindy Cooke, PhD, DNP, FNP-C, FAANP 

Parents are concerned about autism. In the last decade, prevalence has been on the rise, and so has awareness. Still, many parents feel unsure about expected social, emotional and cognitive milestones, and favor a “wait and see” approach instead of reporting concerns to their provider. Here’s a cheat sheet to the basic age appropriate questions that trigger autism red flags. If you answer “no” to any of the following, or your instincts tell you something is off, make an appointment with a provider to have your child formally evaluated.  

                        Does your child…

6 months         smile?

9 months         exchange sounds and facial expressions?

12 months       babble, respond to his/her name and exchange gestures such as pointing,reaching or waving?

16 months       say any words?

24 months       say any two-word phrases?

Diagnosing autism can be difficult because there is no medical test to confirm it, but diligent screening at nine, 18 and 24 month well visits can often tip off providers to underlying problems. Early intervention is key to a good long term prognosis, so talk to your provider about your concerns and get a comprehensive diagnostic screening by age two to ensure valuable early treatment for your little one.