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Children must be screened for autism before 14 months, says new study

For parents with children on the spectrum, the journey towards enabling the child can be long and challenging. But with right therapies and special education, a child with autism can do extremely well in life. Even today, most of the parents fail to diagnose developmental disorders in their child. Sometimes, children are given medicines which make things worse.

A new study has suggested that a child must undergo screening for autism when they are at least 14 months. Experts point out that the earlier autism is diagnosed, higher are chances of providing them with right intervention.

Autism affects speech, communication and social skills of the child. Hence, parents must make sure that their child undergoes an autism screening when they take their child to a paediatrician for regular check-ups. The research done by a group of experts in the United States of America has a valid point as to why early diagnoses and intervention must be a priority for parents. In order to assert their point, researchers conducted the study on over 1,000 children over a period of ten years.

Grace Santosh, a Chennai-based psychologist and parent to a child on the spectrum, says catching them young makes it easier to offer the right intervention.

Fourteen months is a good time to screen a child for autism. It can prevent certain challenging behaviours, help them to teach required skills, and support them to go out to the community and experience things. All children must have such experience to make them more self-reliant and independent. When you do screening at such a young age, it helps to bring out the best in them in future as well-Grace Santosh, Psychologist /strong>

Even today, most parents screen their child only when they are three or four years of age. By then, much time has passed. After this the learning process becomes slow and teaching them basic life skills and making them independent is harder.

Prema Raviprasad, who has a 33-year-old son with autism, says that parents must be vigilant and notice symptoms of autism in their child from a young age.

"My son was diagnosed with autism when he was two years old. During those times, there was no awareness about autism. But the day I noticed changes in him, I consulted an expert who confirmed that my son had autism. So parents must screen their child for autism as early as possible. The brain growth of a child happens until they are 13 years of age. So parents must ensure that they do all that they can for its right functioning", she says.

So, don't wait until it's too late. Watch your child closely and if you feel some important age related landmarks are delayed, consult a specialist.

ALSO READ: Interacting with an adult who has autism can be easy and fun. Here is how.

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