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Does my child have autism?

Autism is a growing and evolving neuro-developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact as this disorder impacts the nervous system. Individuals with autism often have repetitive behaviors and sensory aversions to sounds, lights, textures and smells as well.


Approximately 1 in 40 children are diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Autism can be diagnosed by age 2, but the average age of children being diagnosed with autism is over 4 years of age. Early intervention is critical in your child’s development if they have autism. Therefore, it is imperative to know the red flags.

autistic child

The following are red flags that your child may have autism.

  • Poor or fleeting eye contact

  • Self-stimulatory behaviors

  • Hand flapping

  • Rocking

  • Oral seeking

  • Perseveration on activities of choice

  • Lack of joint attention

  • Not responding to their name

  • Poor imitation skills

  • Difficulty with imaginative play

  • Display less emotions

  • Poor emotional regulation skills

  • Difficulty with social interactions

  • Poor understanding of body language, vocal tone, and other non-verbal social cues

  • Egocentric 

  • Difficulty with changes in routines

  • Prefers solitude and to play alone

  • Sensitivity to noises, smells and tastes 

  • Repetition of words (echolalia)

  • Difficulty transitioning

  • Need for routine and “sameness”

If your child displays any of the above red flags, they may have autism and
should be evaluated by a psychologist, neurologist, or developmental

What are the causes of autism?

Autism is caused by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Possible causes of autism include pesticides, heavy metals, and premature birth. Children born to older parents are also at a greater risk for having autism. If a family member has autism there is also a higher correlation for an autism diagnosis. Prenatal exposure to rubella, pregnancies spaced less than a year apart, if the mother took antidepressants during pregnancy, and mothers with arthritis and celiac disease are also thought to be possible causes. It should also be noted autism is less common in developing worlds.

My child has an autism diagnosis now what?

It is important for you to find your team of healthcare professionals to best support your child’s development. Speech-language pathologists can work on social skills, language development, and emotional regulation skills. They also work on executive functioning skills, feeding aversion, and augmentative communication and play skills.

Chiropractors can check for misalignments in the spine putting pressure on the nervous system impacting sensory integration, language, cognitive, motor and oral motor development. Behavioral Therapists help children and their families manage behaviors
associated with transitioning, repetitive patterns and attention seeking, aggressive and avoidance behaviors. Acupuncture stimulates specific anatomical sites to promote self healing through improved energy flow. Psychologists help make a diagnosis of autism. They also help with play skills, manage stress and anxiety, family coping with diagnosis and repetitive and self stimulating behaviors. Occupational Therapists help with fine motor, development, emotional regulation and sensory integration skills. Physical Therapists help with gross motor development. Art Therapy promotes language, play, fine motor and social skill development through art. Music Therapy promotes language, play, fine motor and social skills development through music.

It is also important to provide your child’s school with their evaluation and diagnosis and make sure your child has an IEP or 504 plan in place to help them succeed. You can find an advocate to come with you for your child’s school IEP meetings. Get your child involved in social activities such as sports, music, art, or even a structured social skills group. If you are feeling overwhelmed about your child’s diagnosis you may benefit from going to a therapist specializing in autism and family matters.

If you are feeling overwhelmed about your child’s diagnosis, looking for support, help through advocacy, research, or even a better understanding of autism you can research out to your child’s team of therapists, The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD), and Autism Speaks.

Our South Florida Pediatric Speech Therapists treat autism. 


If you would like to schedule your child for an evaluation please contact us here.

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