Children with autism have difficulty communicating and interacting with others. Early treatment can improve the outcomes for these children.

The latest statistic released by the Centers for Disease Control indicates that autism is diagnosed in 1 in 59 American children. Early treatment offers the best hope for good outcomes.

What are some of the red flags for autism?

A child who shows two or more of the following red flags should be evaluated:

  • Lack of appropriate eye gaze or eye contact
  • Lack of warm, joyful expressions
  • Lack of sharing interest or enjoyment
  • Lack of response to name
  • Lack of gestures to communicate such as pointing, showing, giving, reaching, waving
  • Repeated behaviors with body or with objects
  • Limited set of interests or lack of ability to play
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • No words by 16 months

What can I do if I think my child may have autism?

The most important thing to do is to have an evaluation. Start by talking with your child's physician and working with him or her to find professionals who can help determine whether your child has autism.

Will my child grow out of these problems?

Children who have autism do not typically grow out of these problems without treatment. What we do know is that the earlier we provide treatment, the better the outcomes for children over time.

A staff member helping a child discuss a book

What kinds of treatments are available?

There are a wide variety of treatments available for autism ranging from behavioral treatments to social-interactionist treatments. Children benefit from different types of treatment depending on their strengths and weaknesses. They may also benefit from more than one type of treatment.

Who can help?

Diagnosis of autism is best done by a team of professionals who can assess different areas of your child's development. The team often includes a developmental psychologist or pediatric neurologist, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, and a social worker or family advocate.

There is an Autism Spectrum Disorders Clinic at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the Center for Applied Psychology. Families can have an evaluation using the best tool we have for diagnosis, the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. Also, the IUP Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic is able to provide a full evaluation of a child's communication abilities. In fact, professionals across the two clinics collaborate when both types of assessment are needed. Call the Center for Applied Psychology to schedule an appointment at 724-357-6228.

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The IUP Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic also provides treatment for children with autism spectrum disorders. Students in training provide services under the direct supervision of certified speech-language pathologists using up-to-date, research-based treatments. Call the clinic for information, 724-357-2451.