There are so many disorders that fall on the Autistic Spectrum -- Asperger's, ADD, SID, PDD-NOS, just to name a few. What are some of the "early warning signs" that a parent should watch out for?
Some of them are listed in this exerpt from Unraveling the Mystery of Autism and Pervasive Development Disorder: A Mother's Story of Research and Recovery by Karyn Seroussi. [Published by Simon & Schuster. Reprinted by permission.] If a parent is concerned about their answers to some of these questions, then they need to speak to their physician about an autism screening.
- Does your 18-month-old child's language development seem slow?
- Has he lost words that he had once mastered?
- Is he unable to follow simple commands such as "Bring me your shoes?"
- When you speak to him, does he look away rather than meet your gaze?
- Does he answer to his name?
- Do you or others suspect hearing loss?
- Does he have an unusually long attention span?
- Does he often seem to be in his own world?
At 18 months old, a child will typically do the following:
- Point to objects
- Interact with his/her siblings
- Bring you items to look at
- Look directly at you when you speak to him/her
- Follow your gaze to locate an object when you point across the room
- Engage in "pretend play" such as feeding a doll or making a toy dog bark
Autism is a developmental disability that impairs social and language development. It occurs in families from every class, culture, and ethnic background. It is not a mental illness, and it is not caused by trauma -- it is neurobiological and its symptoms can be greatly reduced by early diagnosis and treatment.
You've taken on a lot of different roles in the autism community. Tell us a bit about the different things you do and the companies with which you work.
I began working for Kirkman in December of 1999. I had personally become familiar with their nutritional supplements when I had introduced changes to my son's diet. I had removed the dairy (casein), and gluten from his diet and added a multivitamin called Super Nu-Thera [which is made by Kirkman]. Within weeks of making these changes, I saw an increase in eye contact from my son, something that I had not seen in a year. I began calling Kirkman, asking for samples of the Super Nu-Thera to share with other families. I wanted other parents to know that there was hope and that there were things that we could do that would impact our children's lives. I then met the owner of the company at a few autism conferences and we began a dialogue. A few weeks later, I was asked to join the company as a customer support representative. I later acquired my certification as a nutritionist.