By Kodey Toney
When writing this column I usually gear my discussion toward parents with children who have been diagnosed with autism. Every once in a while I will actually write to people with other disabilities or children with disabilities. However, this week I want to reach out to those parents who may be on the fence as to whether your child has a problem or not. If you have an inkling that your child or someone you know may have autism there is a free screening coming up.
When dealing with a child with a disability the hardest part is admitting that there may be something “wrong” with your child. I’ve expressed this many times in the past, but it’s worth revisiting. This is hard for many because we all want our child to be “normal”. But, if you’ve been following me long you’ll know that normal is just a word, and not actually a state of being.
Also worth restating is the fact that you can’t begin to help your child until you actually have a diagnosis to get help. As Kathie Snow of Disabilities is Natural states, a diagnosis is something used to get services. These services may include IEPs, TEFRA, therapies, and other assistance; all of which you need an analysis to receive. You are your child’s best advocate, so if you want the best for your child you need to understand what you can to do to help. If you had a child who was getting headaches constantly wouldn’t you take them to the eye doctor to see if they needed glasses? Why wouldn’t you do the same for a child you think has autism?
Early Access Oklahoma is sponsoring a free autism screening in Poteau on Friday, November 9. This will be held at the LeFlore County Health Department. The screening is a service of the OU Health Sciences Center Child Study Center, and is funded by the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council.
The website http://earlyaccessok.org/ states: “Screening is a very important step in ensuring that children with autism and other developmental delays are getting the early intervention services they need. According to the Center for Disease Control less than 50% of children with developmental or behavioral disabilities are identified as having a problem before starting school. By this time significant delays may have already occurred and opportunities for crucial early intervention have been missed.”
So many may ask, “How do I know if my child needs to be screened?” The site has some warning signs to look for. They include:
- Does not respond to his or her name
- Doesn’t babble by 12 months or use some words by 16 months
- Doesn’t point or wave bye-bye
- Seems to prefer to play or be alone
- Os not interested in other children
- Lacks interest in sharing or enjoyment with others
- Has difficulty relating to others or understanding their feelings
Some others I would mention would be covering their ears, hand flapping, and meltdowns.
While you will not receive an actual diagnosis at this screening you will receive expert advice as to whether your child might have autism, and your next move in gaining a diagnosing.
This is a free screening. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of this? If you don’t suspect your child has autism you may know someone else who may benefit from this service. You may be a teacher or person who works with children who you suspect need this screening. You also may just be a friend who knows someone who could use this information. Please, take advantage of this service.
For more information, or to set up an appointment, you can call (405) 295-5273, or visit www.earlyaccessok.org.
Disclaimer: I am in no way claiming to be an expert. I’m just a father who is trying to learn as much about Autism as I can to help my child. I hope that you all can learn from me, and I from you. I ask anyone who has questions or comments about something I have written, or autism, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will try to answer questions as I have time, and if I find it interesting enough I may touch on it in my column. You can also find all columns archived at blogspot.com.