Autism and Aspergers Syndrome

Early Warning Signs!
(Includes Mini Quiz)

Discovering the truth early will provide the best outcome for a child on the
autism spectrum as well as the people that surround them.
Learn to see through the camouflage of this “invisible disability”.
by
Karen Simmons Sicoli,
Author, “Little Rainman”, CEO, AUTISMtoday.com,
Bringing Autism Solutions Right To You!
“Little Rainman shows that autism can be seen and understood by
everyone. After reading this book full of miraculous pictures, I feel greater
love, compassion and understanding of a situation that somehow touches us
all sooner or later.”
Mark Victor Hansen,
Co-creator, #1 New York Times best-selling series Chicken Soup for the Soul
We are all too familiar with children that display characteristics at an
early age which seem odd or peculiar but can’t quite put our finger on
exactly what is wrong, if anything. Since Autism Spectrum Disorders also
known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders are diagnosed by specialists
through the observation of certain behaviors over time. This makes it
entirely possible for the general public to at least learn what characteristics
to watch for if they are suspicious that a child may have this disability. This
way, if they have an idea that the child has autism, they can seek the proper
channels for an accurate and early diagnosis by a professional in order to get
the proper strategies and systems in place soon in the child’s life. In this day
of inclusion, learning styles and techniques must be taught and understood
by everyone so the school experience for all will be as effective as possible.

This is in no way meant to replace a proper diagnosis, rather to explore
the possibility of autism in order to help get the children who need it the
most to the right doctors. As a result of early and proper intervention,
proper strategies, techniques and supports can be put into place. The
awareness of these symptoms, early diagnosis and support will result in
taking years off the diagnosis cycle in the long-run. The child will
ultimately be able to learn much more, have greater self-esteem and a much
better chance at being successful in their lives due to addressing the right
teaching and learning styles and strategies. The other lives these children
touch such as their peers and siblings will also be enriched by their presence
and will gain a deeper, much greater understanding of autism and special
needs. With proper and early diagnosis, it will also enable parents, extended
family and educators to move people through their “denial phase” more
quickly and offer the best possible solutions for the child if they, in fact,
have a disorder on the autism spectrum.

It is my belief that the main reason children are missed in the recognition
phase of the diagnosis often times is that these children are generally very
normal in appearance hence the name for this condition “the invisible
disability” so are therefore overlooked. Seeing a child spinning around in
circles or waving their hands in the air seems like typical child’s play to
everyone with an untrained eye. What is it that separates this behavior from
regular play? It can be truly hard to tell, especially to the person who is not
knowledgeable or aware of what to look for.

Another reason it is often overlooked, though it’s tough for me to
mention, is the parent’s very own denial of something being wrong with
their child. After all, didn’t they receive a clean “bill of health” at the
hospital when the child was born? Ten toes, ten fingers, the doctor
announced “a fine healthy baby boy” to mom and dad! How can something
so real change? Besides, it is incredibly hard on the mother or father’s own
ego at a personal level to discover or even suspect that their child may in fact
have autism. Certain cultures in particular have a very difficult time
accepting this special needs diagnosis as it has been negatively ingrained
deep within their belief structure for hundreds of years.

When my son was 2 ½, it was my sister in law who chall enged me to
have him checked out by a doctor after she had listened to a radio talk show.
I only did so for the purpose of proving her wrong as I was so defensive that
she would even suggest such a preposterous idea and thought she was just
comparing her daughter to my son who happened to be the same age. I’m glad I was so stubborn that I had to prove her wrong rather than just sit back
and wait to see. I sure had to eat my words and humble myself when I
finally learned the truth and am glad I did. though I didn’t feel that way at
the time. She was the catalyst for me and thank God she was. I was able to
get out of my own way and move on to what was most important, Jonathan
and his early intervention. On the other hand, my Italian husband, after
years of saying “there’s nothing wrong with Jonny” finally recognizes and
accepts Jonathan’s autism though is very reluctant to admit it in social
situations.

Extended family can also be difficult in relating to this condition, as
many of the autism characteristics that seem to display themselves in our
children are the very traits often times hidden in our family trees through the
behaviors and tendencies in our aunts, uncles, grandparents an so on. Of
course, we couldn’t ever say that to them and nor should we. Instead we
should seek to understand this factor and let it help us so that we do not take
misunderstanding and criticism personally. Their comments are not an
attack upon us as parents in general or as something against our child with
autism, rather an inner fear having something to do with their own agendas.
Having said this, many times it is this very group of extended family that
actually notice and point out the differences in behavior to the parents as
parents can be blinded to these traits as they are the ones continually around
their children day in and day out and many times have grown to believe they
are perfectly normal.

In summary, I cannot over emphasized the importance of having
everyone on the face of this earth familiar with the early warning signs of
autism spectrum disorders so that proper interventions can take place as
early and as is feasibly possible. The longer the typical autism
communication, behavior, sensory and social skills styles are not addressed,
the more ingrained these traits become and the more difficult it is to change
them. This is especially true in this type of individual who’s major
characteristic is that of practicing and practicing whatever it is they enjoy
until they perfect it. Even if it is something negative as in the case of their
stimulatory behavior.

Attached to this article is a Mini Autism Quiz to help ALL people at least
begin to recognize signs to watch for in pre-school children. Hopefully this
will help the process along and encourage people to get out of their own way
to help their very own children. Others can also carefully suggest that a
parent seek proper intervention with the many books and resources available that haven’t been available in the past. With the tools available in this day
and age, there is no excuse for these children to fall through the cracks of the
system.

About the Author
Karen Simmons Sicoli is a mother of six and the author of Little Rainman, a story of autism told through
the eyes of her son. A gemologist by trade, Karen shifted gears to work full time in the autism community
after a near-death experience. She is the founder of AutismToday.com and is active worldwide in
promoting a deeper and more personal understanding of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. She makes her
home in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. ”
MINI AUTISM SPECTRUM QUIZAre you wondering whether a pre-school aged child you know may have an Autism
Spectrum Disorder such as a type of Autism or Asperger’s (pronounced Ass-burgers)
Syndrome?

Take this simple little quiz.

1. Do they spin objects around and around?
2. Is their speech repetitive, like an echo?
3. Are they attracted to shows like Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy?
4. Do they like to watch the same movie over and over again?
5. Are they fascinated with numbers and letters?
6. Do they seem unafraid of things that they should be afraid of?
7. Is it hard for them to make eye contact or they simply don’t?
8. Do they shun away from being touched or arch their back when held?
9. Do they like to line objects up in rows?
10. Do they lack the ability to play “with” other children interactively?
11. Do they walk up or down stairs always leading with the same foot?

If you answer yes to three or more of these questions, have them checked out by a
professional who is recommended by your local Autism Society.
To find more information and resources on Autism and Asperger’s, please visit
http://www.autismtoday.com/

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