Autism Screening For Children
Is your child having difficulty communicating?
Have their peers all begun talking, while your child is falling behind?
Are they having difficulty with eye contact, or picking up on your facial expressions?
If so, it’s possible they may have an autism spectrum disorder.
This prospect may be a little frightening, but children with an autism diagnosis can still live happy, independent, and productive lives.
District Speech can help.
We’ll screen your child for the symptoms of autism, and if it seems like they may have an autism spectrum disorder, we will refer you the appropriate developmental pediatrician as well as build a treatment plan designed to help your child develop healthy communication habits.
What Is Autism?
Autism is a condition that manifests itself in communication, developmental, or behavioural issues.
Autism is not a disease, nor is it contagious. You can’t “catch” autism, or get infected with it. It’s a developmental disorder that occurs at birth.
From a speech therapy perspective, children with autism have trouble acquiring language, picking up on social cues, picking up on the thoughts and feelings of others, and with reading body language and facial expressions.
Symptoms of autism may range from fairly mild to severe. Depending on individual cases, a child with autism may need only minor accommodation, or in rare cases may need long-term care in a dedicated facility.
How Do I Know If My Child Has Autism?
The best way to find out if your child has autism is to have them evaluated by a developmental pediatrician. If you notice any of the following signs and symptoms in your child, this is a good indication they may need to be seen by a speech language pathologist while you’re waiting for your appointment with the developmental pediatrician:
- Difficulty making eye contact
- Intense interest in a single topic
- Uneven skill development
- Sensitivity to sensory input – sights, sounds, smells, touches
- Late speech development
- Not reacting to your facial expressions, gestures, or vocal tone
- Not wanting to be touched
- Speaking in a monotone or singsong voice
- Repetitive movements
- Social withdrawal
- Seizures (in rare cases)
All Cases Of Autism The Same?
No. What was once referred to under the umbrella term “autism” is now understood to be several different disorders, which we refer to as “autism spectrum disorders”. These disorders include Asperger’s syndrome, autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and others.
At one point, these disorders were considered distinct from each other, but these days we consider anyone who meets the proper diagnostic criteria to fall under the umbrella term of “autism spectrum disorder”.
Because more children than ever before are being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, we’re beginning to better understand these conditions.
What Causes Autism?
The unfortunate, and unsatisfying, answer is, we don’t know.
We do know some risk factors, though. In particular, your child is more likely to have an autism spectrum disorder if:
- You have a family history of autism
- Your child is a boy
- You or your spouse is age 30 or older when pregnant
- You or your spouse uses drugs, alcohol, or certain pharmaceutical medications when pregnant
- You or your spouse is diabetic or obese while pregnant
In many cases, it’s your speech therapist who will first notice and alert you to the signs of autism.
Here at District Speech, we can help.
Our speech therapy clinic uses the DAYC-2 test – the Developmental Assessment of Young Children – Second Edition.
This is a popular test used to identify children from birth to age 5 years, 11 months with possible delays in development. In particular, it measures your child’s:
This measures your child’s conceptual skills, including:
- Purpose-based planning
- Decision making
- Discrimination & differentiation between different options
This measures your child’s ability to:
- Share ideas
- Share information
- Share feelings
- Verbal communication
- Nonverbal communication
- Receiving communications
Social & Emotional Development
This measures your child’s:
- Social awareness
- Competence in social situations
- Ability to navigate social relationships
This measures your child’s motor skills. It explores their gross and fine motor skills.
Gross motor skills involve movement in the larger muscles of the arms, legs, and torso. Fine motor skills, meanwhile, involve the smaller muscles in the hands, fingers, and forearms.
This measures your child’s ability to help themselves and exist independently. It considers:
- Eating & drinking
- Getting dressed
- Using the toilet
- Taking personal responsibility
The DAYC-2 test doesn’t necessarily diagnose autism on its own, but it plays an important and useful role in identifying issues in the above domains. This can be a first step for your doctor toward an autism diagnosis.
Book An Appointment At District Speech
Is your child displaying some unusual behaviour?
Did you read the above symptoms of autism, and see your own child reflected in them?
If so, book an appointment with District Speech today.
It can be a worrisome time trying to figure out whether your child has autism. But once you know, you can take the steps you need to take to make sure they can still live a happy and fulfilling life.
Children with autism have unique needs, and the first step toward meeting those needs is to recognize what they are in the first place. Book an appointment with District Speech, and we’ll help you recognize them.
Book your appointment with District Speech today.
Contact us today to find out how.