Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Parent to Parent: Autism
It's a disorder affecting 1 out of every one thousand children. April is Autism Awareness month. But in tonight's Parent To Parent, Dr. Debbie shows us how to spot the early warning signs.
WSVN--Four-year-old Tony Rodriguez can do some remarkable things like play the piano, do multiplication tables and read.
But when he was younger, his parents knew something was wrong.
Guillermo Rodriguez: "Our first sign was the lack of speaking. He just didn't talk."
On the other hand, tony's two year old brother Frankie started speaking at a normal age until...
Erin Rodriguez: "He stopped babbling, he used to say dadadadada, mamamamama and all of that stopped."
The reason - both boys were diagnosed with autism.
Erin Rodriguez: "We just didn't see it, we didn't know it was something so severe."
Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the U.S. -- increasing at a rate of 10 to 17 percent a year.
But unfortunately, there is no cure.
Lynn Martinez: "So tell me what to look for."
Dr. Debbie: "Early on you want to see cooing and babbling certainly by the first year because autism in many ways is a communication disorder you want to look for how your baby in communicating."
Other early warning signs include:
At 12 months -- no back and forth gestures, like your baby waving or pointing to things.
At 16 months -- no words.
By 24 months -- no meaningful, spontaneous two-word phrases.
And a loss of language or social skills at any age.
Dr. Debbie: "Other things you want to look for are, um, does your child as he enters his second year do something called joint attention? And what I mean is if you see an airplane in the sky does your child look up and sort of try to get you to notice it too?"
Other red flags:
Lack of interest in social games like peek-a-boo.
Being unresponsive to sounds, like his name being called out.
And inconsistent or limited eye contact.
If your instincts tell you something's wrong, experts say early detection is key in the first years of life.
Dr. Debbie: "The brain is still developing and when it comes to language delays or language disorders, whether it comes to behavior challenges or any type of developmental delays the earlier you can get support for your child to understand what's going on and what your child need the more likely they'll be to reach their full potential."
Thanks to an early diagnosis, Frankie's autism isn't too severe.
And Tony's getting help too.
Erin Rodriguez: "It shows us that just because he has autism doesn't mean life is over."
Guillermo Rodriguez: "It's not the road you intended to follow, but this is the new one and lets make it the best road we can."
Lynn Martinez: "Experts say boys are three to four times more likely to have autism then girls."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
IF YOU HAVE A CONCERN DR. DEBBIE CAN HELP YOU WITH E-MAIL US AT:
Dr. Debbie Glasser's Website:
AUTISM AWARENESS WEBSITES:
Autism Society Of America
Dan Marino Foundation
Centers For Disease Control