April 3, 2008

EARLY INTERVENTION KEY TO HELPING CHILDREN WITH AUTISM

The Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Network is encouraging families to learn the characteristics associated with Autism and to have their child evaluated if they are concerned about their development. Research has shown that early intervention can result in significant improvements for these young children.

The importance of early intervention is the focus of National Autism Awareness Month in April. Today, one in 150 individuals is diagnosed with Autism, making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined. The disorder occurs in all racial, ethnic and social groups and is four times more likely to strike boys than girls. Autism impairs a person's ability to communicate and relate to others.

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that typically appears during the first three years of life and with symptoms that can range from very mild to severe. Parents are usually the first to notice unusual behaviors in their child or their child's failure to reach appropriate developmental milestones. It is critical that parents, educators, physicians and childcare providers learn the signs of autism and have children evaluated early.

Early signs of Autism may include delays in verbal and non-verbal communication, limited use of gestures or pointing, limited pretend play skills, or lack of or limited response to simple requests.

If you have concerns about your child's development, speak to your pediatrician and contact the Nebraska Early Development Network at 888-806-6287 about having your child screened for Autism. For more information on early signs of autism and other important resources, contact the Nebraska ASD Network at (www.nde.state.ne.us/autism) or 402.450.6298.