Thursday, November 8, 2012

Be informed, be proactive

Jacob has been engaging in some silly behaviors lately and I wanted to post them.  Every time he hears a loud noise or a song that makes him excited he stops whatever he is doing and stands up and starts running in circles as fast as he can.  When he hears the vaccuum he smiles and follows it all around the house.  He hugs the air vent and listens to it for long periods of time, no matter how much we pull him away from it.  He follows his shadow around the house and sometimes holds his own shadow's hand.  He mimics some tunes of songs that he hears on the tv by humming them.  He is now officially requesting the IPad by saying,"I I I".  YAY! He can't handle different foods touching each other on his plate, he always seperates them and when he is done he always throws the rest of the food on the floor.  If you hand him a ball, he will immediately run to a hard floor to drop it to hear the sound it makes.  He walks backwards while rolling his hands really slowly in front of his face.  He plays the IPad with his feet, even including puzzles.  Whenever he runs, he takes super fast tiny steps and it looks so hilarious.  He always takes off running the moment he sees his therapist.  He is so special and makes us laugh so much.  I just wanted to have these silly moments that our family loves so much posted to remember. 

I have run across a few situations lately in which very well meaning friends of mine feel that a child they know is on the spectrum, but that their parents have no idea.  They weren't telling me in a gossipy sort of way and never mention names, but they are genuinely concerned about whether they should mention anything to the parent.  They don't know if they should tell them or not.  This is a difficult topic for me, in particular.  Do I think the parents should be made aware?  YES, absolutely.  Is it an easy thing to do? No way.  Some parents take it personal.  Some parents who have children on the higher end of the spectrum believe their children are gifted because of their above average language skills and have a hard time accepting the diagnosis.  Even in my text books it states that many parents that have the hardest time accepting the diagnosis are the ones with children with higher IQ's.  Their kids seem like little "Einsteins" though socially they are very delayed or impaired.  Also, many people don't know or understand the early signs of autism.  Many people don't want to believe that their child may be on the spectrum.  The only problem about the parent not knowing or accepting it is that they are missing a very important opportunity for their child to learn.  The important thing to understand is WHY early intervention is so important.  People hear about early intervention and even talk about how good it is that people "catch" it early, but most people don't understand the true significance of detecting the signs and acting on it at an early age.  It is not only because of the extra years that they recieve therapy, but about the way the human brain works.  I wanted to write a post to inform everyone about the early warning signs and red flags so that you can help your loved one. 



1. Decreased social responsiveness
* Responding to their name
* Looking at people
* Joint-attention
2. Atypical Sensory-Regulatory Behaviors
* Increased mouthing of objects
*Unusual vision attention patterns
* Increased irritability


1. Adversion to social touch or proximity
2. Lack of appropriate gaze
3. Lack of warm, joyful expressions with directed gaze
4. Lack of sharing interest or enjoyment
5. Lack of response to name
6. Lack of coordination of gaze
7. Lack of showing objects
8. Repetitive movements or body gesturing
9. Repetivive movements of objects



1. No smiling in response to a smile
2. Lack of response to name
3. Not able to follow a point
4. Lack of initiating a request verbally or non verbally
5. Lack of joining into play with an adult
6. Lack of eye contact
7. Lack of pointing to objects desired
8. Repetitive behaviors or patterns
9.  Out of the ordinary tantrums
10. Difficulty with change or transition


Ok, so why is early intervention so important? 

Research proves that kids who receive intensive early intervention services are more likely to have improved long-term outcomes. Early intervention can maximize their learning potential by addressing communication, problem behaviors, play skills and overall skill development from a very early age. We know, through extensive brain research, that neural plasticity (the brains ability to learn new skills) decreases with age. When children are very young their neural plasticity is high, but as they get older it decreases. When this plasticity decrease, it becomes more difficult to learn new skills.  Autistic children in particular avoid things that are stressful or difficult, so the older they get, the harder it is to teach these skills.  This could cause them to become more isolated or withdrawn. This is not to say that any age is too late to begin intervention.  Intervention can help anyone with ASD at any age.  The fact is that beginning early, while the brain is still malleable, gives the child their best chances of success. 
I have a good friend who came to bring me dinner the other day as I was recovering from surgery.  She told me that she was beginning the process of getting her 2 sons into speech therapy.  Neither of them show any red flags of autism, however, she is so proactive in parenting that she has noticed things that other parents may have otherwise overlooked or just not acted on.  Her oldest son has a very hard time articulating his words.  Her younger son, who is 2, should know around 350 words and doesn't.  This doesn't sound like a big deal, huh?  Well, I think it is so fabulous that she is being proactive.  She sees a problem developmentally and is acting on it.  Whether the doctors tell her to go forward with speech or not, she is doing what she feels is best for her son.  Its inspiring to me to see moms who are on fire about motherhood.  They care about the details of their children.  I feel that mommyhood is a ministry.  With any ministry, one should strive to do their very best for the Lord. 

Colossians 3:23-24

English Standard Version (ESV)
23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
A while ago, I made a video of Jacob and his early symptoms.  If you would like to view it click on the link below or copy and paste:

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