If you have a child who has autism, it’s important to have that diagnosed early. The earlier you can start introducing interventions, such as ABA therapy, the more effective it will be in the future. Experts agree that early diagnosis is crucial to get the most success from modern therapy options available today.
Many parents of children with autism notice issues with the child’s development quite early. In some cases, it may be obvious before the child has their first birthday. Early identification can lead to a quicker diagnosis, which is associated with improved long-term outcomes.
What Autism Spectrum Disorder Is
Autism is a term used to refer to various conditions exemplified by challenges with speech, repetitive behavior, nonverbal communication, and social skills. The American Psychiatric Association groups four previously unique diagnoses into the category of autism spectrum disorder. These include:
- Asperger syndrome
- Autistic disorder
- Childhood disintegrative disorder
- Pervasive disorder not otherwise specified
Autism is typically considered a developmental disorder since the symptoms show up when a child is under two years old. However, many kids don’t receive a diagnosis until they are older, which delays their access to ABA treatment.
Early Signs of Autism in Children
Since early diagnosis is encouraged, parents should be aware of some of the early signs of autism. The behaviors below make up many of the most common signs that a child could have autism:
- A regression from previously achieved language milestones, even with babbling
- Lack of imitative and pretend play, such as speaking into a toy telephone
- Not responding to one’s name or having a decrease responding to hearing one’s name
- Lack of pointing or looking to the area where someone else is pointing
If you believe your child may have autism, early diagnosis is very important. However, keep in mind that there is no single test to determine whether a child has autism. Instead, the individual must meet certain diagnostic criteria.
When To Screen a Child for Autism
The first step for diagnosis is typically a development screening. It’s a short test to determine whether a child is learning the appropriate basic skills or is experiencing delays. A health care professional will ask you questions and play or talk with the child to see how they speak, move, learn, and behave.
Early diagnosis is valuable for the best long-term success, but intervention at all ages can help a child with social and emotional wellness. For example, children should be screened for developmental disabilities and delays at well-child doctor visits at nine months, 18 months, and 24 or 30 months.
The Next Steps After an Autism Diagnosis
Children with autism who are diagnosed early can often experience great success through ABA therapy. PBS Therapy offers this evidence-based therapy option for kids of all ages. We offer therapy throughout south Florida through a team of more than 140 therapists. So if your child has been diagnosed and you want to move to the next steps, get in touch with us today.