Dr. Le-Bucklin’s Answer:
Currently, there is no proven way to prevent autism. However, early diagnosis is the key to improving the long-term outcome for children with autism. Intervention with behavioral, speech, and other therapies have been shown to have the most success when started at an early age. Parents can help with the early diagnosis of autism by attending regular well child visits with their pediatrician and keeping a close eye out for possible signs of autism.
According to Autism Speaks, parents should notify their pediatrician if they notice their child has any of the following possible signs of autism:
- No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by 6 months of age.
- No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by 9 months.
- No response when the child’s name is called by 10 months.
- No babbling by 12 months.
- No words by 16 months.
- No two word meaningful phrases (without imitation or repeating) by 24 months.
- Any loss of speech, babbling, or social skills at any age.
For parents seeking more information about the diagnosis and treatment of autism, I highly recommend the Autism Speaks website. The site hosts an extensive collection of articles and videos which highlight key facts regarding autism. For parents of children with autism, the site offers vital information on treatment options and practical advice on how to meet their child’s unique needs.
Note: I was recently interviewed by Lani, the mother of triplets and co-founder of the Multiples and More Blog Network. This question was from our interview.