April is Autism Awareness Month, a time to shed light on a condition that affects many families in our area and across the country.
According to the CDC's ADM Network (ADM), about 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with the disease. The symptoms often start before the age of three and include social impairments, communication difficulties, and repetitive behavior.
Autism continues to astonish health professionals, as its cause is still unknown. Getting a diagnosis can create anxiety for families, and many feel isolated because of a lack of understanding about the condition.
Although we can not cover everything that involves autism, there are services and support that can help families become positive outcomes for their loved ones. Lawrence County Developmental Disabilities (LCDD) provides early intervention services to eligible children and their families up to the age of 3, at a time when the intervention has proven to be most effective. Early intervention, which is offered at home, is based on a core team model consisting of service coordinators, development specialists, speech therapists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists as well as nursing staff.
Mary Ferguson, a development specialist, says early intervention helps identify resources are available to help families embrace this new chapter in their lives with their child. Supporting their natural environment helps to train the child and the family in a comfortable environment, which is beneficial for a child with autism.
Another development specialist, Traci Brace, affirms this idea and says family members understand this. Autism does not have to define who their child is. Brace says early intervention helps the family focus on what their child can do and not what they can not do.
For Tammy Fennimore-Taylor she touches her on a personal level as a development specialist with families living with autism. 1
Experience helping me identify with families who have been told or observed that their child's development is not taking place as expected, autism is growing and becoming more prevalent, "says Fennimore-Taylor," so it's important to have these children as early as possible
No two people are alike and autism affects people in It's best to deal with autism early and often – the more understanding we have, the more effectively we can people with autism and their families support.
For more information on the LCDD Early Intervention Program, please contact 740-532-7401 or visit www.lawrencedd.org.