Autism Awareness: What All Parents Should Know

April is Autism Awareness Month and marks a good opportunity for parents to educate themselves about the disorder and the ways it could affect their own children and the children in their community. Pregnant mothers can discuss autism with their OBGYN specialist during pregnancy and ask for reliable resources to prepare themselves for the potential of autism. The following overview will also help parents arm themselves with important information about autism.

Autism Is Increasingly Common

Autism, which is sometimes called autism spectrum disorder or ASD, is more common than ever before in children in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2014 that autism occurs in one in 68 births in the U.S. overall and in one in every 54 births of boys. This rate is almost twice that of a previous study released in 2004. The increase in diagnoses does not necessarily mean that something is causing autism to increase, but rather doctors and parents alike are now more aware of the symptoms. Because individuals with autism require lifetime support, it can be helpful for parents to prepare for the risk during pregnancy with the help of their OBGYN provider.

Symptoms Begin Early

Often, the symptoms of autism are present during infancy, but they may become more apparent after age two. During checkups, your child’s pediatrician will perform developmental screening tests to look for the signs of autism. Not babbling or cooing by 12 months, not gesturing by 12 months, not saying single words by 16 months, not saying two-word phrases by 16 months, or any decline in language or social skills are considered developmental delays. While these symptoms don’t mean that your child has autism, they may require further investigation.

Early Diagnosis Matters

Every family’s experience with autism is different, but the importance of early diagnosis is relevant across the board. Early intervention improves treatment outcomes and helps to improve the quality of life for all family members.

Autism is a difficult diagnosis, but support is available at Riverside Community Hospital from our women and children’s services team. Get a referral to a physician or learn more about other services, including robotic surgery, organ transplant, and bariatric weight loss in Riverside, by calling (951) 788-3463.

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