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Screening For the Signs of Autism: June 20, 2011

It’s estimated that one in 150 children are diagnosed with some for of autism spectrum disorder. Experts believe early detection can make a difference in the lives of these children.

Autism is top of mind for parents nowadays and getting a head start on this disorder begins with a health screening

“If we can identify the children that have those features that are associated with autism we can get some therapy started early and really have a great opportunity for successful outcome” says Sherri Campbell nurse practitioner at The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

The sooner a child is diagnosed, the sooner they’re able to start therapy for their particular disorders.

Speech therapy and some occupational therapy which works with sensory issues are helpful, says Campbell.

Autism is more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined, however some parents have trouble accepting it, unless they get a diagnosis.

Campbell says, “Parents who are in denial that are you know really are just not ready to deal with it not that it’s a fault of their own but it’s almost like a defense mechanism where its just so challenging for them they just can’t face it”.

Classic red flags are poor eye contact, delayed speech and lack of social interacting. Lee Memorial Health System offers free autism screenings.

“And we have made is to that it’s a one shot deal; they come to the screening we do the screening there, we give the results right then to the parents,” says Campbell.

It’s a simple process and worth the effort for mother Holly Hanni.

“You know, so we would know what to expect and how we would prepare ourselves to care for our children.”