When my children were young, I was somewhat obsessed with looking for signs and symptoms of autism. There's so much information and misinformation about the disorder, and with rates of diagnosis skyrocketing, I wanted to make sure I was on top of it if one of my children was affected by it.
Neither of them was, but I spent a lot of time reviewing all of the lists of developmental markers to watch for, and intently watched to see if my children met them. Still I was never exactly sure what I was looking for. I never had any kind of real-life example I could watch and compare to my children's behavior. Fortunately, a new video has been released that provides exactly that.
Produced by researchers at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, the free online video tutorial titled "Bringing Early Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders into Focus" is designed to spur earlier diagnosis. As we know early intervention can be key in helping children with autism. However, the average age of autism diagnosis is 4 even though about half of children with autism could be diagnosed by 14 months of age. That's a lot of crucial time being lost in treatment.
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The nine-minute video shows children interacting in a room with a therapist and some toys. A voice-over points out what the child is doing (or not doing) that may be an early indicator of autism. For example, they show one boy putting a telephone to his ear, which could be considered a form of imaginative play, but once you see the actions of the neurotypical child and how he plays with the phone, you can see the difference. It presents a much clearer picture of the indicator than any list ever could.
Of course, no one should make a diagnosis based on this video alone, but it's a good tool to alert parents to some red flags they may want to discuss with their doctor. If you have a young child, it's definitely worth a watch, and if you know of others who do, please pass it on to them. For more information, visit www.autism.kennedykrieger.org.
What do you think of this video? Do you think it's helpful?
Image via KennedyKrieger/YouTube