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April is National Autism Awareness Month

In April of 1970, the Autism Society declared the first National Autism Awareness Month to help educate the public about autism. According to the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC) approximately 1 in every 68 children in the United States has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD is about five times more common in boys than girls.

People with ASD can have problems in three areas:

  • social interactions
  • communicating with others
  • and behavioral challenges

Each individual’s symptoms may be unique. Some common characteristics that can be seen in children on the autism spectrum include poor social skills, such as having trouble interacting with other children, making inappropriate/offensive comments, or not being interested in playing with other children. They may also have a lack of empathy towards others. Some children on the autism spectrum do not like physical contact such as hugs, tickles, or physical play. Other symptoms could be obsessions or physical tics. Furthermore, changes in routine can be unsettling as well as sudden changes in their environment such as loud noises or a change in smell or lighting can. Repeating of words or phrases, monotone speaking, or not speaking can also be signs of possible autism.

Because every child is different it is important to pay attention to how your child is developing. The CDC has a campaign called “Learn the Signs, Act Early” that has a great information about behavioral milestones based on age.

When working with children with ASD it is important to get to know the child and ask people closest to the child what works and does not work. Important things to remember when working with a child with ASD is be consistent, stick to a schedule, reward good behavior, create a safe spot at home, look for nonverbal cues, figure out why they’re throwing a tantrum, make time for fun, pay attention to sensory sensitivities, and find help and support.

The website Autism Speaks is also a great resource for ASD and has some book recommendations for children about being a friend to someone with autism:A Friend Like Simon by Kate Gaynor, My Friend with Autism, by Beverly Bishop or My Friend Has Autism, by Amanda Doering Tourville.

The Campbell County Medical Group Kid Clinic provides primary medical care and counseling services to children in Campbell County School District and their siblings over age 2. The Kid Clinic is located at 800 Butler Spaeth Rd. in the old Hillcrest School. Call 307.688.8700 for more information or to make an appointment. Visit www.cchwyo.org/kidclinic.