Advice for Concerned Parents

  1. Monitor your child’s development. Autism and other developmental delays involves a variety signs and symptoms, therefore it is important to keep a close eye on when and if your child is reaching their milestones, this is an effective way to identify the problem early on. It is important to note that whilst developmental delays don’t automatically point to autism, they may indicate a heightened risk. Look out for any odd or obsessive behaviours such as lining up toys or other objects, sensory seeking behaviours and spinning around or banging head - Keep a written or video diary to look back upon.
  2. Contact your health visitor. It is important to remember that every child develops at a different pace, therefore you don’t need to panic if your child is a little late in walking or talking. If your child is not meeting the milestones for his or her age, or you suspect any problem, share your concerns with your child’s health visitor immediately.
  3. Don’t accept the "wait-and-see" approach. Many concerned parents are told, "not to worry" or "wait until they start nursery" but from experience I cannot stress enough that waiting is the worst thing you can do because you risk losing valuable time at an age where your toddler has the best chance for improvement. Developmentally delayed children are unlikely to simply "grow out of" their problems. In order to develop skills in any area of delay, it is important that your child gets extra help and targeted intervention.
  4. Trust your instincts. Ideally, your health visitor will take your concern seriously and ask you to fill out some questionaires regarding your childs development. She may come and observe your child at home or in another enviroment such as a play centre or nursery. Ask her to do an evaluation for autism and/or or other developmental delays. She may refer you to other professionals such as a speech and langauge therapist, Occupational Therapist, child psycologist or other professional. Trust your instinct, even some doctors can fail to see red flags in a child so dont be afraid to seek a second opinion, or ask for a referral to a child specialist.