Beautiful Minds Blog

Early Signs of Autism – what to look for in infants

We often hear so much about the “red flags” seen in toddlers, but there are many signs that a child with autism beings to display earlier on in their infancy stage. If caught quickly, early intervention can help your child on the spectrum advance their language and communication skills at a faster rate then once these skills have already developed and need to be retrained.

One reason many families have a hard time recognizing these red flags may have to do with the fact that since children do no start producing spoken language until one year of age, the “early signs” might be too subtle to notice. This could be especially true for families with limited resources and access to information. Therefore, these children who should have already been evaluated are not referred to early intervention therapy until after they are expected to produce spoken language.

Here are some of the early signs of autism that begin in the infancy stage. These signs are important for all parents to be aware off. The earlier that autism is diagnosed and therapy begins the better chances your child has of overcoming certain social and behavioral obstacles later on in life.

  • Smiles late or very minimally – occurs in the first few months of life
  • Seldom makes eye contact with people – typically emerges between two to four months
  • Does not respond to calling of their name with head turns – occurs between eight to ten months
  • Does not turn or look when you point or say “look at this,” – occurs between ten to 12 months
  • Does not point at objects or people – emerges between 12 to 14 months
  • Does not babble back and forth – established at six months of age. Babbling becomes more complex with more syllables between 8 to 10 months
  • Demonstrates unusual movements, such as hand flapping, spinning, tapping or playing with the same toy in a way that seems odd or repetitive
  • Doesn’t explore surroundings with curiosity or interest

If you have any concerns about your child’s development in the infancy stage, please reach out to your pediatrician and voice your concerns. They will be able to refer you to a specialist who can evaluate your child’s development and connect you with the proper program, such as Beautiful Minds Center, that specializes in early intervention therapy.

Enjoying A Stress-free Holiday Season With A Child On The Spectrum

 

Do you find your calendar of events filling up this month? Is it full of holiday parties, family get-togethers, special events, etc? If this is the case, and you expect your holiday season to be a busy one, then we are here to help make your holiday activities a little less stressful this year.

Here are some ways you can help your child with autism plan ahead for the holidays:

No surprises – There is nothing that causes more stress then not knowing what to expect, so this year be clear with your child with autism on where you are going, who you will see, what you will be doing or celebrating, etc. IF they know what to expect, there will be no surprises and less ways to create a stressful situation.

Provide Visual and Verbal support – Depending on the needs of your child on the spectrum, it is sometimes more effective to tell them and show them what they can expect from a particular outing. Sometimes it’s not enough to tell them that you are going to a holiday party at the home of a family friend, sometimes, it’s best to show pictures of your family friends, their home, maybe even some of the food they can expect to eat etc. Other times reading stories about the holidays or drawing pictures with your child with autism will reduce anxiety. Images from stories are also a good way to illustrate what your child can expect from a given situation.

Involve Your Child with Autism – Often your child on the spectrum is told where they are going, what they will be doing, and how they need to behave. This holiday season try involving them in some of the decision making so that they have the chance to take ownership in some of the activities they are part of. Letting your child with autism make a few choices on their own in an outing can help them feel like they are part of the process.

Tell your child when they’ve done a good job! – As you go through the day, make sure you take the time to praise your child on the spectrum for listening, following directions, and being kind to others. This will show your child with autism that they get more positive attention for following the rules instead of breaking them.

Delays Will Happen…Plan For Them – It is rare that things go exactly as planned. It is best to prepare in advance so that an already unplanned situation doesn’t escalate into something worse. To do so, keep your child’s basic needs in mind, make sure to have snacks, water, portable activities and games etc with you so that they don’t feel the consequences of the delay in an adverse way. Also when it comes to shopping during the holiday seasons, if you know your child with autism can’t handle a busy or crowded store, plan ahead to either go without them, order gifts and goodies online, or prepare them for the noise and ciaos that can happen this busy shopping season.

How To Have A Happy and Joyful Thanksgiving Holiday

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, most people are getting excited to celebrate all they are thankful for, but for some, the holidays can be an overwhelming experience. Many children on the spectrum may experience sensory overload from all of the day’s activities and the large number of family and friends that will gather together.  Some may also have dietary restrictions or be sensitive to smell, and since food is the central focus of the holiday, this can present a challenge as well.

The first step to preparing them for the holiday is to set their expectations. Whether you are going to a friend’s or relative’s house or people are coming to your house, communicate with your child what will be happening, so they know what to expect.  It is also great to give them some responsibility on that day, if you are cooking, let them help you, or if you are going to someone else’s home, ask if you can bring a dish you know your child enjoys, and have them be responsible for carrying it in and hand it to the host. That way you know your child’s dietary needs will be met and at the same time, they are engaging with others, which will give them confidence at the start of the event. Having or bringing a child friendly activity is also a great way to keep your child engaged.

It is also very important to set boundaries and rules prior to your thanksgiving dinner. Be sure to go over their bed times, the importance of good manners and other rules you may have at home. If you are going to someone else’s home, or if your dinner will start earlier or run later then your regular dinner time, make sure to communicate with your child that this is a special occasion and that there will be changes to their regular routine.

Since Thanksgiving only comes around one a year, the sudden changes in your child’s routine can be confusing to them. Remember to be patient while they are processing these changes and be sensitive to their needs. Thanksgiving does not have to be a struggle for yourself or your child; instead, it should be a day of happiness and enjoyment.