Learn to detect Autism early

The last thing any parent wants to
hear is that their child may have a developmental disability.

For most, such news triggers
emotions ranging from denial or disbelief, to depression, anger and frustration,
but eventually, concern emerges as the dominant reaction, one that presents an
opportunity to gather facts and second opinions – confirmation as to whether
there is indeed cause for your concern. 

Generally, we’re familiar with
physical developmental milestones in babies, such as weight, height, sitting,
rolling, speaking and walking, but just as these are important, so too are the
social and mental growth indicators, such as smiling, pointing, and enjoying
social interaction.

While every child is different and
develops individually, there are milestones that all children should reach
within a certain time-range.

According to the Centres for
Disease Control and Prevention, the hallmarks of vital social, emotional and
communication development are clear:

At 4 months, your baby should:

follow and react to bright colours,
movements and objects;

turn towards sounds;

show interest in watching people’s
faces;

smile back when smiled at.

At 6 months, your baby should:

relate to you with real joy;

smile often while playing with you;

coo and babble when happy;

cry when unhappy.

At 12 months, your baby should:

use gestures to indicate needs –
like giving, showing, reaching or pointing;

play peek-a-boo, patty-cake or
other social games;

make sounds like “ma”, “ba”, “na”,
“da”, and “ga”;

turn to the speaker in response to
hearing his/her name.

At 18 months, your baby should:

use numerous gestures with words to
have needs met – e.g., pointing to a cup and saying “juice”;

use at least four consonants in babbly
words, such as m, n, p, t and d;

use and understand at least 10
words;

acknowledge the names of familiar
people or body parts by pointing to, or looking at them, when named.

At 24 months, your baby should:

enjoy pretend-play with you, or
talking to and for dolls or action figures;

use simple phrases and two- to
four-word sentences;

repeat words overheard in
conversation;

enjoy interaction with children of
a similar age and show interest in playing with them – perhaps
using/showing/sharing toys;

look for familiar objects that are
out of sight when asked for them.

At 36 months, your baby should:

spontaneously show emotion for
familiar playmates;

enjoy pretend-play – like cooking,
feeding dolls or fixing cars;

understand placement in space
(“on,” “in,” “under”);

answer what, where, when and who
questions easily;

talk about past, present and future
interests and feelings.

The early identification of
developmental concerns permits parents, guardians and teachers to seek intervention
during this crucial early development period.

 As parents, we know our children best. Thus,
if your child is not meeting age-related milestones or if you think there could
be a problem with the way your child plays, learns, speaks, or acts, talk to
your child’s doctor and share your concerns.

For a comprehensive list of
developmental milestones, visit www.cdc.gov/actearly and www.firstsigns.org.

You may also contact Carol Bennett
at the Cayman Islands Early Intervention Programme on 947-5454 or [email protected]

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Parents should start observing their babies’ development from the age of four months.
Photo: File