by Katie Cloyd  – December 18, 2020

So, you think your young child might be on the autism spectrum. Maybe they’re not talking or communicating as expected, or they don’t seem to understand when you talk to them. Perhaps they seem exceptionally frustrated and their tantrum behaviors don’t seem developmentally typical to you.

Like many other parents, I have been there. My son was about eighteen months old when I first suspected he was not neurotypical. He was just under three when we finally got an official diagnosis.

I know the anxiety that comes with suspecting your child might be autistic. You love them so much. You want them to be happy and successful, but you have very little experience with autism. It’s so hard because you want to support your child and help them be their happiest self, but you have so much to learn. Resources exist to help your kid make progress, but you don’t have the slightest idea where to start.

Well, take a deep breath. We can help.

Dr. Colleen Kraft is a working pediatrician, professor of pediatrics, former president of the AAP, and Senior Medical Director of Clinical Adoption at Cognoa, a pediatric digital behavioral health organization focused on early intervention.

Dr. Kraft agreed to sit down with Scary Mommy to empower parents with the knowledge to take the appropriate first steps when they begin to suspect their child is autistic. Here’s what she had to say.

You absolutely can begin to notice autistic traits in your child quite early on.

Trust yourself. Dr. Kraft says that parents might notice some autistic traits in their child as early as fourteen to eighteen months. “It’s [often] in the area of receptive language,” she explains. “They’re not quite getting what [the parents] are saying to them. They’re not bringing things for them to look at, not pointing at things.”

She also notes that children who are unable to express their needs might have increasing tantrum behavior around this age, and while that can be typical toddler behavior, it can also be an early sign that your child is on the spectrum.

Even if your pediatrician suggests a “wait and see” approach, you can take control of your child’s care on your own through Early Intervention.

“We need to work with our professionals on how to actually connect families to services earlier and start to manage the [diagnosing] process,” Dr. Kraft explains. “Besides going to your pediatrician, the next call you should make is to your early intervention program.”

According to Dr. Kraft, every county in every state has an early intervention program for children under three years old, and you don’t have to wait for your medical professional to refer you. Parents are free to call about their own child to request the appropriate evaluations, and ultimately set up an individual family services plan, or an IFSP. This will help you help your child while you journey through their preschool years.

Read full article here.