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A report released recently by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested that all children should be screened for autism. It stated that health practitioners should make autism screening part of the normal check up routine for children that are 18 and 24 months old. Now, mind you, they want this screening regardless of there being any symptoms or signs of autism present in the child.
I would just like to throw out an opinion (everybody has got one, right?) on this issue. No, all children should not be screened for autism. First of all, as we have stated before, no one knows a child like the caregiver-a parent, guardian, daycare worker, anyone who observes the child in normal activity on a daily basis. There is not a test out there (yet, although genetic testing is looking more and more promising) that will tell you if your child has autism by observing the child for anywhere between 15 minutes and two hours. YOU know your child. A checklist or questionnaire is not going to be a realistic picture of your child. Routine screening is only going to cause more panic, misdiagnosis, and unnecessary worry.
If you are concerned that your child may have autism, look at some of our previous post. Find your child’s age group and read what signs of autism you should be looking for. Lots of researchers get off track by treating autism like a disease. A disease can be screened for, detected, and treated. Even though the disease may affect different parts of the body, or only one specific area, it still behaves the same way. Such is not true with autism. EACH case is different. Each child has his/her (boys are four times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with autism) own very unique space on the autism spectrum. Just like no two individuals are exactly alike, no two cases of autism are identical.
Watch your child. Does your child only stack or line up toys? Does he/see have no fear of strangers? Do they avoid eye contact? These are just a few of the signs of autism. These have to be present in addition to your child lacking social interacting skills in order for you to even concern yourself about autism. Read our article on misdiagnosis of autism for more detail.
If your child is displaying some of the signs of autism, please have them screened by a health professional. Early intervention can sometimes make all the difference in the world, and the earlier it gets started, the better the prognosis for your little one. Thanks for reading, and here are a few links to the autism signs articles:
- Autism Signs birth-one year old
- Autism Signs one-three years old (toddler)
- Autism Signs three-five years old (preschool)