The First Steps Toward Diagnosis And Treatment For Your Child With Autism

Posted on: 20 July 2020

Upon learning that your child has autism, a flurry of questions and concerns arise. How will your child learn to socialize with others, communicate their needs clearly, and master essential living skills? Fortunately, millions of children with autism are learning how to live a normal life with behavioral therapy. 

Pediatric physicians have played a key role in the sharp rise in the diagnosis of children with autism. Specialists in childhood conditions can also develop the best course of treatment for your child with autism.

Early Detection of Autism

Owing to the different developmental progress of children and concomitant conditions, early detection of autism is oftentimes difficult. Your pediatrician can diagnose your child with autism as early as 12 months but the average diagnosis is at four years of age. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that screening for symptoms of autism begins at 18 months

A delay in detecting autism delays treatment. Early detection and thus treatment of autism have been shown to produce better treatment outcomes. 

Symptoms of Autism

Your pediatric physician is especially well qualified to identify the early signs that you may miss. They may include the display of persistent:

  • communication deficits (e.g., unresponsive to verbal and gestural cues, delayed speech)
  • social deficits (e.g., lack of eye contact or holding eye contact)
  • interpersonal relationship differences (e.g., does not develop friendships)
  • restricted and repetitive behaviors 

As the parent who spends the most time with your child, taking the time to learn the early signs and symptoms of autism can lead to earlier detection. Your child's physician or the behavioral therapist will run diagnostic tests for autism to confirm the diagnosis.

Autism Therapy in Daily Life

Once autism has been diagnosed, early treatment can begin. As a first step, your pediatrician clinic will recommend you to a behavioral therapist specializing in children with autism. Applied behavior analysis (ABA) is the most successful evidence-based treatment for autism. Although similar therapies may also be recommended. 

Autism therapy is effective because it's applied to daily living skills. Parents, educators, and caregivers receive training in autism therapy. This allows your child's learning and progress to continue in the home, at school, and in community activities.

Your child's doctor will continue to perform developmental monitoring to assess your child's progress. This monitoring will include consulting with the behavioral therapist for progress reports. The pediatric physician will also observe your child for co-existing conditions, which commonly include attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and conduct disorder. 

With early treatment and support from a pediatric physician, your child with autism can learn to lead a full and more independent life.