(CBSNewYork/CBS Local) – This coming Tuesday marks World Autism Awareness Day.
People around the world will wear blue in hopes of raising awareness and acceptance.
Angela Geiger, president and CEO of Autism Speaks, says the focus is on lowering the age of diagnosis.
“Autism is a wide range of things. It’s a set of conditions that people might have difficulty with communication or social skills or repetitive behavior,” she said. “But the important thing to know is that autism is really a spectrum. So what you see in one person’s autism is really different than another.”
Autism can be diagnosed as early as two years old, but the CDC found in 2018 most children were being diagnosed at the age of four.
“The important thing about that is that diagnosis gets you right into timely interventions, and the better that intervention is, you can be your best self,” said Geiger.
What are some of the signs that parents should watch out for?
- Few or no smiles by six months
- Limited or no eye contact by six months
- Little or no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, other facial expressions by nine months
- Little or no babbling by 12 months
- Little or no pointing, showing, reaching, waving by 12 months
- Little or no response to name by 12 months
- Very few or no words by 16 months
- Few or no meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
Geiger says it’s also important for parents to prepare their children with autism for life as an adult.
“Sometimes people look at autism – the diagnosis – as the end. What it actually is is the beginning of being able to have the very best life for your child,” she added.
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