Inclusion Awareness Month: The Importance of Screening Early
Screening for autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, is a difficult process. There are currently no medical tests to diagnose ASD. Doctors must instead rely on behavioral and developmental observations for a diagnosis. But, with a better understanding of autism and its behavioral patterns, doctors can now provide a reliable diagnosis by the time kids are 2 years old.
However, most parents still take on the “wait and see” approach, waiting until their kids are much older to screen for ASD. Delaying the autism screening process prevents children on the spectrum from getting the help they need early on and reduces the effectiveness of the following treatments. As such, screening ASD early—or as soon as they turn 2 years old—is imperative, as it maximizes the benefits of treatments while reducing the behavioral patterns of autism.
Early Signs of Autism
Here are some early signs of autism parents should look out for when determining if they should screen for ASD:
- Lack of eye contact
- No response to his or her name, or to the sound of a familiar voice
- Lack of gestures, such as pointing or waving goodbye,
- No noises to get attention
- No initiation or response to cuddling or reach out to be picked up
Benefits of Screening Early
Detecting autism spectrum disorder should be done early on as age plays a factor in a child’s overall development. At a younger age, the brain is more receptive of environmental experiences. So, providing autism-appropriate education and support during key developmental stages will help children with special needs develop essential skills for a “normal” life when older.
Essentially, screening early leads to early action, improving the overall development of a child with ASD and sensory processing disorders by providing them with a chance of an independent life. While we do not support the notion that autism needs to be “treated”, quality early intervention can lead to improved communication, cognitive, interpersonal, and motor skills within children on the spectrum. In addition, early intervention reduces the core behavioral symptoms and problematic behaviors of autism.
An important and fun early intervention tactic is sensory play. Sensory play is any activity that stimulates a child’s senses and helps them develop thinking, language, social, emotional, and motor skills. A perfect place to engage in sensory play is at a sensory gym, like We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym! At our gym, children on the spectrum Play With a Purpose™, exercising and stimulating the seven senses with our sensory-safe gym equipment. From trampolines to zip lines, our equipment provides both a targeted and holistic approach to sensory development.
Screening early doesn’t only benefit the children; parents can also benefit from early ASD identification. By being aware of it in their lives, parents with children on the spectrum will be able to learn how to best support their child mentally, emotionally and physically. They’ll also have a chance to research treatments and plan ahead.
Approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As such, take initiative and schedule a screening for your child for ASD as soon as possible in order to get the help your child needs early on. We Rock the Spectrum facilities provide the sensory-safe equipment and inclusive environment for children with autism and other alike disorders to learn and grow to their fullest potential.