As a parent, there are few less desirable scenarios than finding out that your own child has a problem with their health or development that could prove to be long-term. Of course, the vast majority of parents are so incredibly cautious with their own children that it is wholly impossible for any potential problem not to be detected and nipped in the bud – they call in the professionals at the drop of a hat. However, in certain cases there are instances where tell-tale signs of developmental issues are either overlooked or interpreted as simple and healthy stages of a child’s development, when they may in fact be something far more serious. Knowing where to draw the line is difficult, which is why it is always advisable to err on the side of caution.
Autism represents a case-in-point example of a condition for which early detection is absolutely crucial. Quite simply the younger a child is when autism is diagnosed, the more effective the resulting treatment can be. Of course, this doesn’t mean that treatment cannot be incredibly effective for children of all ages and even adults, but it’s a case of nipping things in the bud where possible before allowing them to progress and worsen. It may be a much simpler communication issue that demands a brief course of speech and language therapy, but just in case there’s something more serious at play it’s important to understand the basics.
Early Detection – The Parental Role
What’s often overlooked is the fact that as a parent, it is actually you and you alone that has the very best vantage point from which to look for and identify possible signs of autism. The problem here is that not only are many of the symptoms and signs of autism anything but blindingly obvious, but it’s almost impossible for a therapist or doctor to diagnose a case of autism with a simple 20-minute visit to the clinic. Rather than single signs and symptoms, it’s more a case of noting behavioural patterns and more recurrent abnormalities which in conjunction with one another could indicate a case of autism.
Professional advice is always recommended at the earliest possible juncture should you have even the slightest of doubts, though it’s largely up to you to keep an eye out for any unusual signs and symptoms:
How You Can Help at Home
In terms of what specifically you as a parent can do to help ensure a prompt diagnosis where and when autism may be detected, most of it comes down to little more than common sense and proactivity.
- Development Monitoring – For example, developmental delays tend to be the most common signs and symptoms of autism, though can manifest in infinite different ways. Some autistic children may not hit cognitive milestones as quickly as others, while others may appear to be struggling in a more social or emotional sense. Where any kinds of developmental ‘road blocks’ appear to have set in, it’s worth speaking to a professional just to be sure.
- Don’t Delay if Concerned – The fact that every child progresses at a wholly different rate makes it very difficult to know what constitutes a problem as opposed to what is just normal and healthy development. However, experts agree that should there be even 1% of doubt in your mind as to your own child’s development, there’s no such thing as seeking assistance too early.
- Never Just ‘Wait and See’ – One of the most common parental responses to an apparent developmental abnormality is to wait it out for a while and see if it improves on its own. Chances are it might, but at the same time it could be a problem that demands immediate attention in order to prevent it from becoming any worse. It’s generally safe to say that when and where minor signs and symptoms are brought to the attention of the professionals, they turn out to be nothing. However, if and when there’s something that demands more in-depth analysis and attention, you’ll be glad you didn’t wait it out longer than necessary.
- Go With Your Gut – Last but not least, you and you alone know your child better than anyone else in the world including every last doctor on the face of the Earth. As such, when and where you gut tells you that there is something wrong – even if your doctor has told you all is fine – you should trust your instincts and contact an autism professional for a second opinion. Once again, there’s simply no such thing as being too safe when it comes to the health and development of your kids.
A simple and obligation-free consultation can bring peace of mind that’s priceless – early autism detection is an important parental responsibility.