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Category Archives: Advice for Parents of Autistic Children

Autism Signs in Infants

The Top 9 Signs Your Infant May Have Autism

We take a look at the most common autism symptoms in babies and toddlers, and the importance of getting children diagnosed as early as possible.

The signs and symptoms of autism are unique to every individual, and they vary in intensity from person to person. It’s a difficult disorder to pick up when children are young, but an early diagnosis can significantly impact a child’s quality of life and shape their development. Having an awareness of autism symptoms in babies and toddlers is critical.

Common Autism Characteristics

Although it’s specific to each individual, there are some more common autism characteristics that indicate a child could be autistic. 

1.) Lack of smiling

Children with autism often display a lack of smiling. Does your child smile back at you when you give them a warm, joyful smile? Does your child smile on their own? By the age of six months, your infant should be giving you big smiles or happy expressions.

2.) Rare Imitation of Social Cues

Does your child imitate the sounds and movements of others? Do they share expressions back and forth? Infrequent imitation of sounds, smiles, laughter, and facial expressions by nine months of age can be an early indicator of autism in infants.

3.) Delay in Babbling and Cooing

Missed milestones of babbling and cooing can often be a leading indicator of autism in babies. Is your child making “baby talk” and babbling or cooing? Do they do it frequently? Your baby should typically reach this milestone by 12 months.

4.) Unresponsiveness to Name

Is your baby increasingly unresponsive to their name from 6 to 12 months of age? Parents who see this in their child are often concerned it may be hearing loss and are unaware it can be a sign of autism in babies. If you see this behavior in your child, be sure to monitor the signs and consult a doctor. Knowing the signs can be the key to early intervention and getting your child the resources they need to reach better outcomes and live a more independent life in the future.

5.) Poor Eye Contact

Lack of eye contact is a very common sign in those with an autism diagnosis. Does your child make limited eye contact with you and other loved ones? Do they follow objects visually? Severe lack of eye contact as the baby grows can be an early indicator, as it is a form of communication and comprehension.

6.) Infrequently Seeking Attention

Does your child initiate cuddling or make noises to get your attention? Do they reach up toward you to be picked up? Disinterest in seeking a loved one’s attention or bonding with a caregiver is a sign your baby may eventually have difficulty relating to others, which can be a struggle for those on the autism spectrum as they grow up. 

7.) Lack of Gesturing

Does your child gesture at objects or people to communicate? Do they wave goodbye, point, or reach for things? This is a milestone that is typically reached by the time an infant is 9 or 10 months old. Lack of gesturing is a common sign in infants on the autism spectrum.

8.) Repetitive Behaviors

Repetitive behaviors are another highly recognized sign in children with autism. Does your child engage in repetitive behaviors such as stiffening their arms, hands, or legs? Do they display unusual body movements like rotating their hands on their wrists? Do they sit or stand in uncommon postures? This is a form of stimming or self-stimulatory behavior.

9.) Delayed Motor Development

Has your child experienced significant delays in motor development milestones, such as rolling over, pushing themselves up, and crawling? These could be signs of autism in newborns, but they may not be recognized as autism until much later. Early symptoms of autism in babies or toddlers often go unrecognized by parents or caregivers and are often put down as the child simply being a slow learner. 

Why It’s Important to Recognize the Signs of Autism in Infants

One of the most important things you can do for your child after birth is to learn the early signs of the autism spectrum. While most children will start to develop symptoms as newborns, many are only diagnosed when they display the common symptoms of autism in toddlers. 

Getting your child diagnosed as early as possible is the best decision you can make. Firstly, you could get peace of mind if the medical doctor tells you that what you are seeing are signs your baby is not autistic. If they do diagnose autism when your child is an infant, you’ll receive the following benefits:

  • Improved overall development: As parents, our single goal is to ensure our children’s lives are as easy and enjoyable as possible. The same goes for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The bottom line is that infants who receive autism treatment, support, and education at appropriate ages and key developmental stages are far more likely to gain the essential social and reasoning skills needed in society.

 

  • Diminished distress: Imagine a child at school who can’t talk to their classmates, finds it hard to make friends, gets frustrated at not being able to communicate what they want, and is great at math but can’t articulate that. Undiagnosed autistic children become incredibly distressed in social settings; they don’t know what’s wrong with them, and parents and teachers think they are just acting out. An early diagnosis can diminish this distress hugely.
  • Early understanding and acceptance: For parents, it can be hard to understand their child and accept that they are autistic, and it certainly takes time to get used to a new way of life. Getting your child diagnosed early means that you have more time to understand and accept their disorder and to become an advocate for awareness.

 

The Type of Therapy to Expect at the Lighthouse Autism Center

At the Lighthouse Autism Center, we use a unique approach to ABA therapy called Lighthouse Fusion™. This is a unique  program for children on the autism spectrum fuses together ABA and speech therapy and helps children make greater progress, faster.  ABA therapy helps children with autism develop new skills, as well as improve the skills that they already have and decrease problem behaviors.

Our therapy programs are tailored to each individual child, and achievable goals are set out for the child to strive for in different areas of skill. Some skills include:

  • Communication (including speech and language skills)
  • Social skills
  • Improve attention, focus, and memory
  • Decrease problem behaviors
  • Self-care (such as showering and using the bathroom)
  • Play and leisure
  • Motor skills
  • Learning and academic skills.

ABA therapy is based on positive reinforcement, and it brings together a number of different disciplines to ensure that each child gets the greatest chance of becoming the best version of themselves.

Contact us at the Lighthouse Autism Center if you want to know more about our treatment programs, and we can create a custom therapy program for your child.

Tips for House Hunting with Your Child on the Spectrum

Moving is always a stressful and complicated endeavor. But when you have a child on the autism spectrum, the thought of packing up your household and moving somewhere new can seem like a near-impossible task. Parents often worry that their children will get overwhelmed by this major transition, and rightfully so. Children with autism thrive on routine and stability — everything that moving is not!

child and parents moving to new house

Are you looking for guidance? The clinical team at Lighthouse Autism Center presents this informative guide to assist families preparing to move. Whether you’re still in the process of house-hunting or you’re already packing up your home in anticipation of moving day, the following tips will help keep support your child through the process.

Establish Your Home Buying Budget

Raising a child with autism can pose a significant financial challenge for parents, even with the help of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. It isn’t easy to manage the costs of equipment, supplies, medication, childcare, education, and therapy services.

So are you prepared to handle the additional expenses involved in buying a new home, selling your existing property, and moving? Redfin recommends creating a realistic home-buying budget before you start looking at properties. Calculate how much mortgage you can afford by adding up your ongoing expenses and subtracting these from your household income. The rule of thumb is to keep your housing costs less than 28% of your before-tax income. Once you have a better idea of your home affordability, research home prices in your area to find out what kinds of homes you can afford on your budget.

Look for Specific Home Features Conducive to Your Child’s Needs

Ready to start looking at homes? Get in touch with a local real estate agent who can help you scout properties that will best fit your family. Keep an eye out for features that may appeal to your child and your family’s life style. Things to look for might include making sure there is a fenced backyard, double-pane windows to dampen noise from outside, and even considering if there are pools, ponds or bodies of water nearby.

Making a Moving Day Plan

Moving day will always feel a little hectic, no matter how much planning you do. Help keep your child calm and content amid the mayhem by giving them your full attention. Hire professional movers so you can ensure that all of your possessions make it to your new home safely while you spend time with your child. Some movers offer activity packs for children, so be sure to ask about this when you call for quotes. When you arrive in your new home, unpack your child’s room first so they can start regaining some sense of normalcy right away.

Keep Your Child in the Loop

The most important thing to remember as you prepare for your upcoming move is to keep your child in the loop. Children with autism feel more comfortable when they know what to expect. Parents.com recommends broaching the subject early so your kid has plenty of time to process the idea of moving. Highlight some things that your child can get excited about, like a bigger bedroom or backyard where they can play. Help your child visualize the days leading up to your move by writing down everything on a dedicated moving calendar.

Remember: continuous communication is key! Review your moving schedule every day, read children’s books about moving, and offer plenty of positive reinforcement when your child makes it through a day that deviates from their normal routine.

When it comes to moving, things rarely go smoothly — and that’s okay! Be prepared to go with the flow and respond to issues as they arise. Monitoring your child for signs of stress and anxiety is vital. Do what you can to prepare ahead so you can focus all of your attention on your child before, during, and after your move.

Interested in learning more about therapy resources that can assist your child with autism? Contact  Lighthouse Autism Center at 574-387-4313 or visit www.lighthouseautismcenter.com/contact-us.

Siblings of Children with Autism

siblings_autism_1

Children with autism experience social delays, trouble communicating and various other developmental delays that can cause a family to experience extra stress and hardship. This can be particularly hard for siblings who may not understand that their brother and sister has autism and that may cause them to act, communicate or express themselves differently.

Below is a list of items a child who has a sibling with autism may experience. While some of them may be unavoidable, it is important parents are aware of these challenges and work to make sure extra care is not only taken for a child with autism but their siblings as well.

Challenges Siblings May Experience

1.) Sibling Rivalry – it is natural to see rivalry’s develop between children in one household. Siblings may fight over toys, attention, or anything to feel like they are “first” or have “won.” This experience can particularly be heightened for a sibling for a child with autism who may be competing for their parents attention.

2.) Feeling Left Out – children with autism require extra care, time and attention from parents. This can leave other siblings feeling left out or not important. Parents should take extra care to make sure other siblings feel loved and cared for. This could take the form of picking an activity to do together each week or going on a special outing with each sibling every month.

3.) Extra Responsibility – siblings may feel like they have to pick up extra work around the house that their parents do not have time for due to the extra work of caring for a child with autism. While there is nothing wrong with siblings pitching in to help the entire family unit, be sure children aren’t taking on too much extra responsibility (or responsibilities that are inappropriate for their age).

4.) Feeling of Rejection – children may want to have a close relationship with their brother or sister with autism that may not be possible. Children with autism often struggle with touch (like hugging) or with social skills (like being able to express joy, sadness, etc…) which can make it challenging to develop a sibling bond or relationship. Be sure to educate fellow siblings that children with autism do not express needs, wants or emotions in the same way as them and that these things may take different forms depending on the child.

The Importance of Parental Involvement

At Lighthouse Autism Center, we believe in a team approach to helping your child reach their fullest potential. While every member of the team (parents, caregivers, therapists, educators, doctors, advocates) play a part in your child’s success, a parents role is arguable the most important.

Support Starts from the Beginning

While the causes of autism are still unknown, it is important to start looking for the signs of autism early. Studies have shown that catching the signs of autism early in a child’s life can lead to better outcomes. Some of these early signs include missing various developmental milestones, no babbling, no eye contact, no response to name, lack of expression (happy, smiling). If you suspect that your child may be exhibiting the signs of autism, it is important you contact your healthcare provider to determine if your child has autism.

Support Through Therapy 

Once a child receives an autism diagnosis, it is crucial that parents and caregivers seek appropriate therapy services for their child, which may include, ABA therapy, Speech therapy, Occupational therapy, or a combination of these and other therapies.

Specifically, ABA therapy is the only therapy recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General for the treatment of autism. With individualized treatment plans designed by Board Certified Behavior Analysts and the work of a trained Registered Behavior Technician, we sees children achieve great outcomes through this type of therapy.

Therapy At Home

It is equally important that parents work to implement the same skills their child is working on in therapy at home. For example, if a child works on using utensils as part of a therapy program, but parents do not work with the child to use utensils at home, that child may learn they only have to use utensils when they go to therapy, but not at home. Consistency and follow through are key to a child’s success and that requires the commitment and work of parents and caregivers to follow through at home.

Lighthouse Autism Center

For parents and children at Lighthouse Autism Center, our Board Certified Behavior Analysts provide parent training’s and will often go into a child’s home to assist parents. We want to make sure that parents have the tools and knowledge to follow through at home and help their child achieve their highest potential.

 

To learn more about Lighthouse Autism Center, call 574-387-4313.