April is Autism Awareness Month, but perhaps you’re not sure if that’s what you’re dealing with yet. You just know that your child isn’t hitting milestones as expected and you’re more anxious than you have been about anything in your entire life. The following are typical signs of children who eventually get diagnosed as being on the spectrum:
- Seem to show no interest in relating to others
- Doesn’t look at objects pointed out to him or her or point at objects to express interest
- Dislike being held or cuddled by parents or caregivers
- Repeat certain words or phrases over and over
- Not engage in pretend play
- Experience sensory overload to sights, sounds, and smells
- Have difficulty adapting to changes in routine
- Avoid eye contact
Here’s the tricky part: Autism is a broad diagnosis category and if I’ve learned anything about the diagnosis, it’s that most of our kids are individuals. While Porter has repetitive behaviors and may resist changes, he loves to cuddle and is very interested in his siblings.
In other words, the list above are just some examples of behavior that may trigger a red flag that something isn’t quite right. You know that you need autism help, but where do you go from here?
Receiving a Diagnosis of Autism
For most families who suspect autism, the first step in a diagnosis involves visiting their regular pediatrician. Along the way, educational and psychological testing is also helpful, as well as behavioral observation.
A formal diagnosis of autism is typically made by a neurolopsychologist, developmental pediatrician, or psychiatrist. Hearing the word autism, even when you suspect it, can shock you to the core. Just remember that a label does not have to limit your child and that he or she is still the same person.
Autism Help for Families
Parents who receive a life-changing diagnosis about their child often have mixed feelings. It can feel like a relief and also trigger fear. While the unknown is frightening there is a huge community to support you in this journey. You may discover, as I did, that your child with autism can teach you things about life you didn’t know were missing.
Next week, we will discuss finding autism help resources immediately after a diagnosis.