JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Finding out your child has autism might be a diagnosis you weren’t expecting, but pediatrician Dr. Bethany Atkins tells parents there’s no need for panic.
“Please understand this is not a death sentence. This is a different way of relating to the outside world,” Atkins said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 44 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
Some signs of autism can include:
- Delayed language skills
- Delayed movement skills
- Delayed cognitive or learning skills
- Hyperactive, impulsive, and/or inattentive behavior
- Epilepsy or seizure disorder
If you suspect your child has autism, Atkins encourages checking in with a doctor.
“The first step would be to speak to their family practitioner or pediatrician,” Atkins said. “We’re looking for subtle signs early on that there may be a difference in their social development.”
Atkins said children can be diagnosed as young as 18 months old but typical diagnoses are between ages 2 to 3.
“The earlier the intervention, then the more successful these children are going to be outside independent living and generally in life,” Atkins said.