I’m Dr. Jesse Alba. I’m a board certified pediatrician and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. I work with Alpine Pediatrics in Orem, Utah. One question many parents ask nowadays is about autism. Autism’s a very scary diagnosis for families because, for the most part, they don’t really understand what it is. Typically every time they’re coming in,we’re asking those developmental questions.
Signs of autism can start very early in life. Autism, in essence, is a social delay. Kids don’t interact and engage with others in a social format normally. Typically you’ll see that very early on. They’re not looking you right in the eyes,they’re not engaging with you. When they’re a little bit older, they’re not playing with you appropriately, maybe they’re playing with a car but instead of saying vroom vroom and moving it around, they’ll grab it and kind of spin the wheels and kind of be interested in play that’s not appropriate for the toy.
Language development is a big one. Kids who are language delay always kind of raises a red flag in our minds as pediatricians,to see if the child has autism. In my offices, we do an autism screening checklist at 18 months of age and then again sometimes at three years of age. But it’s something that I screen for all the time. I’ve seen signs in kids as early as nine to 12 months of age and certainly by 15 to 18 months, if they’re having some subtle signs of autism, you can tell. With a good pediatrician, they can know. If and when your child is diagnosed with autism, there are many questions that then arise.
Typically as pediatrician’s we’re gonna get you in for a support services fairly quickly and we’re gonna wanna start things like speech therapy,occupational therapy, physical therapy. Some kids have trouble with certain textures. Noises can be a problem. It can be daunting as a parent to have this diagnosis. The best thing you can do is talk to your pediatrician to gain a better understanding of what’s in store for your child with autism.
There’s good scientific studies showing that early intervention with children with autism can make a big difference for those children. They can be more successful,they can go on to lead a fairly normal life. Autism is a very wide spectrum. Some children are very severe and it can be very challenging to work with those children.
Many kids are on the more mild end of the spectrum and these kids can go on to be very successful at school and go on to have full family lifes as adults,be successful in their careers and whatever it might be. Autism is a lifelong diagnosis, kids don’t outgrow it. However, with intervention and with training, they can overcome many of the challenges that they face and lead very successful lives.