Be aware of red flags for risk of autism

AutismWorried your child might have autism? Research shows that it is incredibly important to recognize the early signs of autism and to seek early intervention. According to the Autism Speaks website, appropriate screening can determine as early as age 1 whether a child is at risk for autism.

"We know that early treatment improves outcomes, often dramatically," the website says. "Early intensive behavioral intervention improves learning, communication and social skills in young children with autism spectrum disorders."

One of the most important things parents or caregivers can do is learn the early signs of Autism.

The following "red flags" may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder, according to the Austim Speaks website. If your child exhibits any of the following, ask your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation:

  • No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by 6 months or thereafter.
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by 9 months.
  • No babbling by 12 months.
  • No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months.
  • No words by 16 months.
  • No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months.
  • Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age.

To learn more about recognizing the signs of autism, visit the Autism Speaks website.

To keep up on autism issues locally, check out the University of Maryland Autism Research Consortium. They host a monthly lecture series with a movie event and guest panel scheduled for April 11.

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