Kids With Special Needs: Diagnosing Autism
Many parents of children with autism say that when they look back, they had a feeling that something was wrong by 6 months of age. By age 2, the diagnosis can definitively be made.
There are a number of things to look for early on in development.
At 4 months of age, a baby should be able to:
follow and react to bright colors, movement and objects.
turn toward sounds
show interest in watching people's faces
smile back at you when you smile (sometimes referred to as a social smile)
At 6 months of age, a baby should be able to:
relate to you with real joy
smile often while playing with you
coo or babble when happy
cry when unhappy
If your baby is not doing a number of these things, it may not be serious, as each baby has his or her own time schedule. But you should consider that your baby could perhaps have some form of developmental delay. Keep in mind that this may not be autism but a normal variation in development that may have no consequences.
If your baby is behind, the first stop is your pediatrician. He or she may refer you to a child psychologist or special pediatrician for psychological testing, which is not difficult for the child to go through and can tell you a lot. If your pediatrician does not seem aware of this option, look in the phone book or on the Internet for a developmental pediatrician in your area who's knowledgeable about kids with special needs.
Remember that the majority of the time, early delays are still normal. But being vigilant and careful can't hurt, and if your child does have autism, early treatment can produce a wonderful outcome.