Thursday, April 02, 2009

Autism Awareness Day!!

I'm guessing that there are more of you out there than I know who have a family member touched by autism. Our nephew Grant was diagnosed just before Kindergarten. Grant is just a few months younger than Madison, and I remember countless conversations with his mom, Melanie, when they were little guys about how different they were. I remember Melanie saying that there were things he just didn't do, and I frequently was unhelpful and told her that Madison was just more outgoing, that boys were different than girls, that he would catch up...all the things you want to believe because you love them and can't imagine that anything could really be wrong. But Melanie knew something was wrong, and even did, I think, all the right things. She told her pediatrician, she was persistent and she kept trying. It took longer than it should have to diagnose him, but having that diagnosis has opened doors for that beautiful little boy. (See for Grant's story and Melanie's challenge!) Sooo, Melanie has asked everyone to help early intervention by posting the following early warning signs on your blog. I have seen the amazing difference the autism services have made for Grant, and especially for his family. It can be a sensitive topic for any proud parent, but with early intervention, a child with autism has so many possibilities...they don't have to live alone in their world. post these warning signs on your blog! And be like persistent, don't be afraid to keep asking questions at your pediatrician's office, don't be afraid to push until you get the help you need.

I need to briefly say that I am so proud to have Melanie as a sister-in-law. I know there must be moments where it all seems like too much for her, but we all see how strong she is, and we are all amazed.

Watch for the Red Flags of Autism

(The following red flags may indicate a child is at risk for atypical development, and is in need of an immediate evaluation.)

In clinical terms, there are a few “absolute indicators,” often referred to as “red flags,” that indicate that a child should be evaluated. For a parent, these are the “red flags” that your child should be screened to ensure that he/she is on the right developmental path. If your baby shows any of these signs, please ask your pediatrician or family practitioner for an immediate evaluation:

No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter

No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by nine months or thereafter

No babbling by 12 months

No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving by 12 months

No words by 16 months

No two-word meaningful phrases (without imitating or repeating) by 24 months

Any loss of speech or babbling or social skills at any age

*This information has been provided by First Signs, Inc. ©2001-2005. Reprinted with permission. For more information about recognizing the early signs of developmental and behavioral disorders, please visit or the Centers for Disease Control at