What to Expect
In order to ensure optimal outcomes for individuals with autism spectrum disorders, early identification and early intervention are key. The first steps in this process are awareness and screening. Families should be aware of the developmental milestones that children typically reach around certain ages as well as warning signs that could possibly indicate risk for ASD or other developmental delays. Screening provides families who have concerns about their child’s development to quickly and efficiently find out if their child is at risk for ASD and needs further assessment. Screening is not the same thing as diagnostic evaluation and cannot identify whether a child does or does not have autism. Instead, screening is tool, or stepping stone, that can determine what the next step should be.
Whether a child is referred by a parent or caregiver, the child’s school or through foster care, many of the behaviors presented at home and in school are generally consistent. And in many cases, these are significant indicators that the child needs attention and help.
These signs include:
- Difficulty getting along with peers and/or family members
- Decline in school performance, struggling with school work
- Disruptive behaviors – at home, school or other
- Experienced grief of loss
- Major life changes
- Ongoing feelings of sadness and/or moodiness
- Poor attention span, lack of focus
- Poor self-esteem, body image concerns
- Self harm or suicidal thoughts
- Substance use or abuse
- Victim or witness of trauma or violence