K-12    

Testing Your Child for Autism



One parent tells us why she believes in Early Intervention

Kristi Wilson of Washingtonville knows how difficult it can be when a child does not fit the stereotyped ‘Rainman’ profile for autism, but she also realized the importance of following her intuition. Even though her then 22-month-old son, Jake, did not exhibit some of the classic autism symptoms, such as poor eye contact and not smiling, he still wasn’t talking, and he was becoming difficult to manage.

    
Kristi Wilson knew that her son had signs of autism.

 “We just couldn’t reach him and share a moment with him, other than watching a television show,” says Kristi. One evening after having a heart-to-heart discussion with her husband Bob about Jake, they both went online to research Jake’s symptoms. “We were frustrated that Jake wasn’t talking and wanted to know why. When we saw the information on autism we said, ‘Oh my gosh! That’s what he has!’”

    
According to the Autism Society of America autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others.

   
In February 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDM (Automatic Database Diagnostic Monitor) autism prevalence report. The report, which looked at a sample of 8 year olds in 2000 and 2002, concluded that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 100 American children, and almost 1 in 94 boys. While autism is not a condition that a child outgrows like allergies, studies show that an early diagnosis coupled with intervention can significantly improve a child’s outcome.

    
Armed with information from the web, the Wilsons scheduled an appointment with Jake’s pediatrician to confirm the diagnosis and also contacted the Early Intervention Program (EIP) to have Jake’s speech evaluated. “He would say ‘Diggety Diggety’ over and over again and we didn’t know why.” Kristi has since learned that the repetition of certain sounds is indicative of the diagnosis.

“I think if we had completed the M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers) early on, Jake would have been diagnosed much earlier,” says Kristi.

 
Mom to her two daughters, Jennifer E. O’Brien taught English for seven years at Kingston High School. She currently works as a freelance writer and editor.