29 Apr April is Autism Awareness Month
Recent reported estimates in the news have stated as many as 1 in every 68 children in the United States has autism. It is a developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life. It affects the brain’s normal development of social and communication skills. The numbers and methods of obtaining these new estimates are subject to debate. What is clear is that the increase in cases in going up and up year after year. Some of this is attributed to the increase in awareness of symptoms, which may be leading to inaccurate diagnosing from parents and doctors. However, the increase in awareness can also help to get children services needed to improve developmental skills despite having the correct diagnosis.
There are screenings available that include checklists to help in this process. The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, Revised with Follow-Up is a 2-stage parent-report screening tool. The M-CHAT-R/F is an autism screening tool designed to identify children 16 to 30 months of age who should receive a more thorough assessment for possible early signs of ASD or developmental delay. A trained health care professional should administer the M-CHAT-R/F. Hence, if you answer the questions at home, please discuss your results with your doctor regardless of the results. You can view and complete the checklist at no cost on www.m-chat.org.
If your child is having difficulty with language and social skills or play, learning, and self-care skills, you should consult with your doctor. Ask about having a speech therapist or occupational therapist conduct an evaluation and create a treatment plan if deemed necessary. Have a playful day!
Amy Baez, OTR/L