April is Autism Awareness Month, a time to shine the light on the developmental disability that affects one in every 68 children in the United States.
Autism is a spectrum disorder. Typically, children show signs and behaviors before age three, some may show repetitive movements, while others may experience obsessive interests.
“No two are alike, the signs and symptoms vary, the depth of severity for one may be very different for another,” Autism Society Executive Director Suzanne Potts said.
Other signs include:
- not pointing at objects to show their interest
- have trouble relating or show no interest in others
- have trouble adapting to new routine
- have trouble expressing their needs using normal words or motions
Potts says early intervention will offer the best results.
It’s what Ariana Galindo learned last year, when she noticed her then 18-month-old had issues with his motor and sensory skills and had delayed speech.
Enrique was placed in speech therapy not long after, and later was diagnosed with autism.
“I had all sort of emotions, a little bit of denial,” Galindo said.
Now, two-year-old Enrique goes to five hours of therapy every day, three hours of applied behavioral analysis (ABA) as well as one hour of occupational on top of his speech.
Galindo says at first it was overwhelming with costly visits and waiting lists for special program, taking months to organize his schedule and find his needs.
“There's help, we just have to go out there and look for it,” she said.
One of the issues many parents who have children living with autism is medical coverage. Currently, some insurances don’t cover certain therapy sessions.
That’s what Autism Society of Central Texas is fighting to change.
“If you have Medicaid, you’re not covered because the state of Texas hasn’t expanded Medicaid…so we are pushing to have Medicaid cover ABA therapy.”
The group also works hard to remove the stigma surrounding the disability and give parents options for treatment such as behavioral, speech and physical therapy, consistency being the key.
"We really want folks to understand that people with autism can live vibrant, compelling full lives,” Potts said.
“My suggestion to parents is to never give up, I know it might seem like it’s a big journey and it might seem overwhelming—and it is. But when you start seeing success and you start seeing results that it…comes a long way,” Galindo said. “You just got to push yourself and commit to it and I know you'll get there.”
Potts says if you suspect your child may be showing signs associated with Autism, to check in with a developmental pediatrician.