According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, about 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which includes a wide range of challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors and sensory processing, speech and or nonverbal communication in addition to unique strengths and differences.
Research has shown that while ASD can be diagnosed as early as age 2, most children are not diagnosed until after age 4. Parents of children with ASD often notice a developmental problem before their child’s first birthday. Concerns about vision and hearing were more often reported in the first year, and differences in social, communication, and fine motor skills were evident from 6 months of age.
Early Signs of Autism can be:
- No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions, especially in response to close family members, by six months or thereafter
No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
No babbling by 12 months
No “interactive” gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
No words by 16 months
No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including repeating) by 24 months
- Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age
The Toddler MRI Study at the SDSU Center for Autism can be a great resource for parents who have any concerns about their child’s social and communication development. The Center provides free developmental assessments by clinical psychologists with expertise in autism. They are also hosting the following community workshops to help families with interest in the topic of autism:
Friday 11/3, Child Development and Early Signs of Autism Workshop at Valley Center Branch Library from 3:30pm to 4:30pm
Wednesday 11/8, Aging and the Brain at the College-Rolando Library from 6pm to 7pm
Sunday 11/12, Child Development and Early Signs of Autism Workshop at Poway Branch Library from 12pm to 1pm
Tuesday 11/14, Child Development and Early Signs of Autism at La Jolla Riford Library from 5pm to 6pm
Tuesday 12/5, Child Development and Early Signs of Autism at Crest Library in El Cajon from 6pm to 7pm
Other local resources available to parents with questions or concerns about their child’s development include:
- Rady Children’s Hospital, Autism Discovery Institute
- San Diego Regional Center (state-funded agency). If your child is under 3 years of age, call San Diego Regional Center’sEarly Start Intake Unit at 858.496.4318.
- If your child is over 3 years of age, your local school district may provide an educational program.
- Military families may be able to access services through the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP).
- Developmental Evaluation Clinic at Rady Children’s Hospital: 858.966.8100