Keeping a watchful eye on development

The CDC has announced that the number of children with autism has increased 78% in the past decade. Of course, the big question is why. But for parents, the bigger question is, “How do I know?”

Children grow and develop at different rates, but they all reach developmental milestones along the way. Parents as Teachers begins screening children as early as six-months. Because they visit with families regularly, parent educators are often a good objective eye on a child’s development.

Even so, parents are key. Learn the early signs of autism and understand the typical developmental milestones, advises Ann Haffner with Parents as Teachers. If you suspect something’s wrong, share your concern with your parent educators or health care provider.

There are so many known causes that put children at risk for delays…things like genetics, prematurity, environment (exposure to lead, mercury, alcohol and other neurotoxins), infections, injury and illness. Last year Parents as Teachers parent educators identified almost 26,000 development problems in the children they screened. Many, even autism spectrum disorders, when identified very early can be resolved, remediated or referred for special services.