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Autism: Accepting the challenge

By Amada Sprowl • Apr 25, 2018 at 2:00 PM

Like most children his age, Easton loves to swing, read books and explore outside, along with many other activities. Unlike some of his peers, however, Easton was diagnosed with autism in October 2017.

Autism is a “mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts” (http://www.autism-society.org). There is no single known cause of the condition, which is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 of every 68 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism, which includes 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls.

People with this diagnosis may exhibit unusual behaviors, such as lack of eye contact and repetitive hand-flapping and rocking, but not everyone with autism does; social interactions and communication are often challenging. Limited use of gestures such as giving, showing, waving, clapping, pointing and nodding of the head are other examples of autism in children, as well as delayed speech and a lack of social babbling or chatting (http://www.autismnavigator.com). Intellectual disability may or may not be present.

Sometimes sensory needs or sensitivities can be difficult, too; for example, some children can be overly sensitive to high-pitched frequencies, while others are under-sensitive to sounds. Certain types of clothing — and clothing labels — may be hard for a person with autism to tolerate. Many delays in development can be identified as early as 18 months of age, but autism usually is not diagnosed until the child is two years old. There are many different types and degrees of autism, and different ways in which people diagnosed with it experience the world around them.

Easton’s mom (Kisha Schiffer) like many parents, finds joy in the midst of the challenges her family faces.

“Every day is a new day with Easton. Although he faces different challenges each day,” Schiffer said. “Easton’s happiness is no different than that of any other child. I am his voice; he is my heart.”

If you are concerned that your child may be showing signs of autism, contact your physician and/or your local early intervention team — we can help. Early Intervention services support families and children with a developmental delay or disability. The early intervention team includes a service coordinator and a service provider who will work with you and your family in your home. The team will coach you on how to help your child succeed in daily routines and learning experiences. Huron County residents can contact the early intervention team of the Huron County Board of Developmental Disabilities at 419-663-4769.

 

Amanda Sprowl is early intervention service coordinator at Huron County Board of DD.

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