Can you believe it is half way through February already. This year has just had everything go so fast. I have some wonderful news that I will share over the next few posts but I wanted to start another series of posts on Autism that I have up my sleeve leading up to World Autism Awareness Day and Autism Awareness Month in April.
So to start us off I wanted to start with a topic very close to my heart and that is screening. I know as a first time parent I thought that my LittleMan was no different to any other child. He has his strengths and his weaknesses and seemed to just glide through 95% + of the milestones. What I didn’t know was the signs to look out for Autism … I didn’t know that not pointing was a big deal or that his ‘interest’ in wheels was such a big deal. I just thought everything was OK .. the big thing for me was speech. That was my big clue. But I now know that there were many signs I missed because I just didn’t know and to be honest I don’t think that the nurses or GPs that were helping knew what to ask or look for either … More needs to be done on screening for Autism and developmental delays … but there is much that as parents we can do now.
If you are a parent of a child 16-30 months please read this … or if you know someone who has a child in this age bracket please share. This act may make a huge difference in someone’s life.
What can we all do to better identify children with Autism and get them the help they need ASAP?
Research now suggests that children as young as 1 year old can show signs of autism. The most important thing you can do as a parent or caregiver is to learn the early signs of autism and understand the typical developmental milestones your child should be reaching at different ages. Validated screening for autism starts as young as 16 months. If your child does have autism, early intervention may be his or her best hope.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended that all children receive autism-specific screening at 18 and 24 months of age, in addition to broad developmental screening at 9, 18, and 24 months. The AAP recommends M-CHAT Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) as a tool that can be used for this screening.
The M-CHAT Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) is is a validated autism screening tool designed to identify children 16 to 30 months of age who should receive a more thorough assessment for possible early signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or developmental delay. M-CHAT is not a diagnostic tool (will not give a diagnosis … but just highlight if further investigations are warranted). The M-CHAT is one of the most rigorously tested screening tools for autism. It has been used to assess thousands of children worldwide. Results of these studies have appeared in numerous scientific journals. You can read abstracts and find links to many of the articles here.
I agree 100% with the AAP and I am a strong advocate for all children to be screened by GPs and nurses when they have the regular health checkups … but until that is done … there is something that parents you can do. You can access the M-CHAT Test online free … please do and take the results to your GP to discuss. It is easy, quick and could maybe make a big difference in your child’s life or the child of someone close to you …