Autism Awareness Advice for Parents

As a parent, the very last thing you want is to find out your child has a developmental issue of any kind. Nevertheless, ignorance is most certainly not bliss and when it comes to conditions like autism, early detection really can make all the difference. Early stage autism assessments can help ensure the very best support and treatment are provided as early as possible. But at the same time, it’s difficult to know when and where the time comes to seek assistance, if you do not already have a solid understanding of what to be on the lookout for.

Understanding Autism

Rather than referring to just one single condition or set of symptoms, autism is in fact a wide, diverse and complicated spectrum. Autism presents during the first couple of years of a child’s life or later in childhood, often leading to significant difficulties with social interactions, communication, management of emotions and language use.

One of the biggest problems when it comes to identifying the signs and symptoms of autism as a parent is the way in which they vary enormously from one case to the next. In some instances, they may be much subtler and less obvious than others. Likewise, what appear to be characteristic signs and symptoms of autism may in fact indicate nothing of the sort. Nevertheless, all children with autism will usually display the kind of behaviour that suggests they are having trouble relating to the world around them and other people, while at the same time struggling to communicate both through words and non-verbally.

Even with such intensive and extensive research on a global basis, we still know very little about what actually causes autism. Which in turn means that autism in all its forms can be incredibly difficult to treat. Nevertheless, the one thing every scientist and expert on the subject of autism agrees on is that the earlier it is detected and brought to the attention of the professionals, the better the long-term prognosis.

Detecting Autism

While it would be fundamentally impossible for any parent to go about an accurate diagnosis of autism or otherwise, there is nobody better when it comes to spotting initial signs and symptoms. The reason being that nobody in the world spends more time with your child than you do and there is nobody more familiar with their behaviour, actions, interactions, communication and so on.  It can certainly be helpful to seek advice from a family doctor, but it almost always comes down to parents to report anything that concerns them to the most appropriate professionals as early as possible.

The key therefore is to improve your own understanding of autism, in order to determine when and where the time comes to speak to the professionals. As mentioned, signs and symptoms may vary considerably, but there are certain important rules to follow at all times, including:

  • Watch Over Development. Generally speaking, developmental delays represent a primary effect of autistic spectrum disorders. It can be tricky to realistically and actively keep an eye on your child’s development, given the way in which every child reaches cognitive, emotional and social milestones at a slightly different time than every other. Nevertheless, if you get the impression that your child’s development is in any way progressing slower of more challengingly than you believe to be ‘healthy’, there’s no harm in arranging a consultation.
  • Seek Advice Early. On the subject of organising a consultation, it’s important to remember that there is absolutely no such thing as ‘too early’ to do so. Even if it is simply to put your mind at rest or to obtain a little helpful advice, there are specialists standing by at all times to lend a helping hand. Chances are you will find your concerns were not necessary, but it’s still a good idea to put them to rest, just in case.
  • Never ‘Wait and See’. If you are advised at any time to adopt a ‘wait-and-see’ approach, this is one individual you should absolutely not be taking any more advice from. The reason being that autistic spectrum disorders at all levels are not the kinds of conditions that simply go away on their own. If anything, ignoring or overlooking the problem for any given period of time could actually make things worse than they already are.
  • Go With Your Gut. Last but not least, be sure to remember that even without any definable symptoms or notable changes in behaviour, your instincts may very well tell you that something isn’t right. Once again, you and you alone know your child better than anyone in the world and are therefore in a unique position to know when and where to seek help. So if for any reason (or indeed no reason) whatsoever your gut tells you something is up, go with it.