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Don't wait if you see developmental concerns in your child

Daily News - 4/1/2018

Autism spectrum disorder is a complex developmental disability that affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with others. Signs typically appear during early childhood, and one in 68 children are diagnosed in the United States each year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends autism-specific screenings to be performed on all children at 18-month and 24-month well-child visits, but children as young as 12 months can be screened.

Autism spectrum disorder is defined by a set of behaviors that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. While there is no known single cause, increased awareness and early diagnosis/intervention coupled with access to appropriate services and supports lead to significantly improved outcomes.

Parents know their children best. If your child is not meeting the milestones of his or her age or if you have concerns about the way your child plays, learns, speaks, acts and moves, tell your child's doctor as soon as possible.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a free milestone tracker app available online at https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones-app.html.

Some behaviors associated with autism include:

Delayed learning of language.Difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation.Difficulty with executive functioning.Narrow, intense interests.Poor motor skills.Sensory sensitivities.

A person on the spectrum might follow many of these behaviors or just a few. The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is applied based on analysis of all behaviors and their severity.

In April, also known as Autism Awareness Month, several community events will be held.

Autism Family Night will be from 4 to 7 p.m.April 17 at Chick-fil-A, 1766 Campbell Lane. A group of volunteers and professionals from LifeSkills, WKU Renshaw Early Childhood Center (Big Red School), Graves Gilbert Clinic, First Steps and the Autism and Asperger Support Group of Bowling Green will provide families with free autism screenings for children ages 12 months to 5 years. There will be goody bags for all who complete a screening on-site and fun crafts for children.

Screenings include a series of yes-or-no questions for parents to answer and it only takes a few minutes ? well worth the time and effort for those who may be wondering about their child's developmental progress. Results will be scored right away so parents will know immediately if there is a need for follow-up care. Professionals will be on hand to connect them to the best services and resources. A parent or legal guardian must be present. For more information call 270-535-6571.

LifeSkills' Run/Walk for Autism will be April 21 at Bowling Green Ballpark, 300 Eighth Ave. Pre-registration pickup for this event is available from 4 to 6 p.m.April 20 at Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex at WKU.

On April 21, on-site sign-in and registration will be from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. Free parking is available at the parking structure at Stadium Park Plaza. There will be a 4-mile run at 8 a.m.; a 1-mile kid's fun run at 9 a.m.; and a 1-mile family walk at 9:30 a.m. For more information or to register, click on the LifeSkills Run for Autism link at wku.edu/wkucec.

 
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