As a parent, there are very few less appealing situations than finding out that your own offspring has a health or development issue that could prove to be long-term. It is fair to say that most parents are so cautious with their children that it’s almost impossible for a potential issue not to be caught early on and nipped in the bud – most call the experts at the drop of a hat. Nevertheless, in specific cases there are scenarios where tell-tale signs of development problems are either interpreted as healthy stages of a child’s development or are overlooked completely. Knowing where exactly to draw the line is not easy, which is why it’s always a good idea to err on the side of caution.
Autism is a condition that represents a case example for which early detection is enormously important. Put simply, the younger a child is when the condition is diagnosed, the more beneficial the treatment could be. Of course, it’s fair to say that autism treatment can’t be hugely effective for children of all ages and adults, but it is really a case of nipping the problem in the bud where this is possible before it has time to progress and worsen. It might be a simple communication problem that demands nothing more than a short course of speech and language therapy for secondary schools, but just in case the situation is more serious, it is crucial to understand the basics.
The Parental Role in Early Detection
What is so often overlooked is the fact that a parent has the very best vantage point from which to observe and identify any possible signs of autism. The issue is that not only a lot of the symptoms of autism anything but clearly obvious, but it is nearly impossible for a doctor or a therapist to diagnose with certainly an autism case with a short 20-minute visit. Rather than single symptoms and signs, it is more a case of registering behavioural patterns and abnormalities which when combined could point to a case of autism.
Expert advice is of course always recommended at the earliest possible point should a parent have even the slightest of doubts, though it is really up to them to keep a close eye for any unusual symptoms and signs:
What Can You Do at Home
In terms of what exactly you as a parent can do to make sure a prompt diagnosis is established when and where possible when autism is detected, most of it is nothing more than proactivity and common sense:
- Monitor Development – For example, a developmental delay tends to be one of the most common symptom and sign of autism, although can manifest itself in many different ways. Some children with autism might not hit cognitive milestones at the usual age, while others may struggle in an emotional or social sense. Where any types of a developmental “road block” appear, it is time to speak to an expert just to be sure.
- If Concerned, Don’t Delay Taking Action – The fact that all children progress at different rates simply makes it quite difficult to be sure what represents an issue as opposed to what is completely normal and healthy behaviour. Nevertheless, professionals agree that if there is even 1% of doubt in parents’ minds concerning their child’s development, there is no such thing as looking for assistance too soon.
- Don’t ‘Wait and See’ – One common parental response to an obvious developmental issue is to wait it out for some time and see if can improve by itself. Chances are that it might, but on the other hand it could be an issue that needs immediate attention in order not to be come any worse. It is usually safe to say that where and when minor symptoms and signs are brought to the attention of the experts, they indeed turn out to be nothing. Nevertheless, if there is something that requires more in-depth attention and analysis, you will be glad you did not just wait it out longer than it was necessary.
- Listen to Your Gut – Last up, you and only you know your child better than any doctors and experts on Earth. Therefore, where and when your gut is telling you there could be something wrong, you should always trust your parental instincts and get in touch with an autism expert for their opinion. There is simply no such thing as being too proactive and safe when it comes to the development and health of your children.
A quick and obligation-free consultation could bring peace of mind that is priceless – early detection of autism is an important responsibility of every parent.