Posts Tagged ‘ Early Intervention ’

A Development Heads Up For Parents Of Young Kids With Autism

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Kids with autism are likely to have motor skill deficiencies, finds a new study from Oregon State University. Researchers studied the development and motor skills of 159 children ages 12 months to 33 months, including 110 diagnosed with autism. They found that kids with autism were nearly a year behind their peers in fine motor skills (which can affect the ability to grasp items, like toys or spoons). These children were also six months behind in gross motor skills, including jumping and running.

Most autism treatment plans for young kids with autism focus on social communication; this study, published in the Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly journal, indicates that Early Intervention and other treatment plans may need to include treatment for fine and gross motor skills. Parents should also consider adaptive physical education programs, recommends researcher Megan MacDonald, an assistant professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Services.

If you think your child with autism is having motor skill issues, speak with your pediatrician and Early Intervention coordinator. This is a key time to get him help. As MacDonald said, ”Recognizing those deficits really early gives us more time to help children catch up to their peers in regards to motor skills…. At that age, kids are like little sponges—we can teach them motor skills.”

From my other blog

When friends don’t get your special needs life

We crashed the autism-friendly Disney Junior Live performance

Does the punishment fit the crime for this special needs bully?


 Image of child brushing doll’s hair via Shutterstock

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Does My Child Have Autism? When In Doubt, Check It Out.

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012


This is a post in the weekly Autism Hopes series by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez, a mom who blogs over at Atypical Familia.

Norrin was about sixteen months old when I first suspected something was “wrong.” I remember telling my mother I was concerned that Norrin wasn’t speaking. My mother waved my concerns away, she said I was just a new mom who read too many books. My husband felt the same way and told me not to worry.  And when I wondered out loud, if Norrin had autism – everyone told me that Norrin was just fine.

Then we took Norrin for his eighteen month check up with the pediatrician. I told him I was concerned about Norrin, but the pediatrician also dismissed my concerns. “Boys typically develop slower than girls…if he’s not talking by the time he turns two, then call this number,” he said and then scribbled down a number on a scrap of paper.

I wish I could say I ran home and dialed that number.

But I didn’t. I waited. I waited until January 21st – the day after Norrin’s second birthday. Norrin’s first appointment for the developmental pediatrician was scheduled six weeks later.

During my six week waiting period, I started reading about autism. And the more I read, the more I prepared myself for Norrin to be diagnosed.

Based on what I read about autism, Norrin had all the signs. I flipped through Norrin’s baby milestone calendar – you know the cutesy kind with the stickers to track baby’s firsts. I realized most of the stickers were still in their original place. I wasn’t too busy to mark the milestones, those milestones had never been met. In addition to not speaking, Norrin never pointed, clapped or waved.  He didn’t play peek-a-boo either.

Norrin also had the repetitive mannerisms associated with autism, in other words he was a “hand flapper.” All along I thought Norrin was pretending to conduct music like the kids on The Little Einsteins cartoon.

The day finally came when we met with the developmental pediatrician. After two hours of questions and observations, he recommended further evaluation. We met with a social worker, a speech pathologist, a psychologist and had Norrin’s hearing checked.  And after two months of evalautions, the developmental pediatrician confirmed what I had suspected all along.

Norrin was diagnosed with autism in May of 2008 and was recommended for Early Intervention services. By the time Norrin’s Early Intervention services started it was almost the end of June. Eight whole months after I first expressed concern to Norrin’s regular pediatrician. Eight months wasted.

I blamed myself for a long time after Norrin was diagnosed. How could I wait? Why didn’t I know? I was consumed with guilt. And I felt like I had failed my child.

But even though I waited, we were lucky in the sense that there was still time. Early Intervention services are for children 0 to 3 years old. And I was determined to make the most of the time Norrin had left. Once Norrin got the services he needed and once I knew how Norrin needed to be taught, that guilt eventually subsided.

By September, Norrin had three words and could say a few letters. He was taught to point his finger and clap his hands. He could also sign a few requests. And he laughed when we played peek-a-boo. He was making progress.

The evaluation process wasn’t easy for me. It hurt to see all the things my child could not do. It hurt to feel like I had done something wrong by waiting. And it hurt to hear the words: your child has autism.

But it felt amazing watching Norrin thrive. And I cherished and celebrated every single first, the way any new mom would. In fact, I cherished them even more because I knew how hard Norrin worked to meet the milestones that came so easily for other kids.

Since Norrin’s initial diagnosis, I’ve received calls and emails from friends who were concerned about their child’s development.  Obviously, I’m not a doctor but my advice is always the same: If you have any doubt, do not wait. Do not let anyone – not your mother, your husband or your doctor – dismiss your concerns. Trust your instincts. Take your child to see a developmental pediatrician as soon as you suspect something may be “wrong.” Do not wait until your child turns two.

I have seen too many parents wait too long and they miss the Early Intervention window. And for Norrin, Early Intervention was absolutely critical. He would not be where he is now, had it not been for those intensive early services.

I do not think of Early Invention as the beginning of his journey in special education. I think of Early Invention as the head start Norrin needed for the future he deserves.

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