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Learning Center Experience
By Lori Becker, Faculty, Social and Behavioral Sciences
It seems as though every week there
is a new article or report regarding autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), mainly
because there is still much unknown about the disorder. Researchers and doctors
have been unable to determine a root or source as to the cause of ASDs, which
can make treatment frustrating and difficult to navigate. However, experts have
been able to hone in on the “red flags” or symptoms of ASD, some of which show
up as early as 12 months of age.
What is included
Autism is a complex developmental
disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. The
result of a neurological disorder, autism affects the normal functioning of the
brain, which impacts development in the areas of social interaction and
communication skills. Children and adults with autism typically show
difficulties in verbal and nonverbal communication, social interactions, and
leisure or play activities.
In babies and young children, ASD
affects the areas of language development, social skills, and general behavior.
Following are some “red flags” that may indicate ASD. 2,3
Development Red Flags:
Social Skills Red
As you can see from all of the
examples above, there are many symptoms that can be regarded as ASD. Not all of
these symptoms are present in all diagnosed ASD children, but seek the
assistance of a pediatrician if you notice more than three to five consistent
symptoms that worry you about your own child or student.
Studies show that an early ASD
diagnosis can help make the condition more treatable; behaviors can be treated
and unlearned with therapies and pro-active treatments. The longer ASD
undiagnosed, the more difficult it may be for a child to respond to treatment.4 This is why early intervention is a key to treating
children with ASD. In fact, there are many organizations and state funded
programs that service ASD children. This is a great benefit for parents faced
with a diagnosis of ASD.
Unfortunately, sometimes parents do
not want to acknowledge the symptoms of ASD, so it may be the responsibility of
a teacher or caretaker to discuss the issue with parents. It is crucial
to every child’s success—with ASD or not—to have supportive, communicative
adults in their lives. It may be uncomfortable and difficult to bring this
issue to a parent’s attention, but it is the best for the child in question.
Recognizing the signs of ASD in a child is the key to diagnosing, treating, and
helping that child succeed throughout his or her life.
1. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), from the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development. Accessed January 2011.2. About Autism, from the Autism Society. Accessed January 2011.3. Autism Signs & Symptoms, from On Spectrum. Accessed January 2011.4. Autism and Asperger's Syndrome Early Warning Signs, from Autism Today. Accessed January 2011.
About Lori Becker
Lori Becker has more than 10 years of experience working in the early childhood field, and has worked at Kaplan University for the past 4 years. Her research interests include curriculum, literacy, and child development, and she hopes to present at an early childhood conference in the near future.
Ms. Becker received an undergraduate degree in elementary education from the University of Florida, and a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education from Nova Southeastern University. She is currently working toward her doctorate degree from Nova Southeastern University. Ms. Becker believes that Kaplan University’s early childhood program helps her make a difference in the lives of her students, just as she hopes they will do for their future students.
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