It’s Autism Awareness Month; do you know the warning signs?

The University of Kentucky hosted the state’s first Light It Up Blue event by illuminating Memorial Hall with blue lights on April 2nd, and this event is a unique global initiative that kicks-off Autism Awareness Month and helps raise awareness about autism.

This is the sixth year for Light It Up Blue, but the Autism Society has been celebrating National Autism Awareness Month since the 1970’s in order to highlight the need for awareness about autism. Autism is increasing in prevalence, and according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 50 school-age children in the United States has autism; that number increased from 1 in 88 in 2012.

Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a spectrum disorder that affects individuals differently. Typically, autism appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others, says the CDC. While there is no known single cause of autism, it is treatable, and studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes for families.

With individualized interventions, says the CDC, parents can minimize challenges their child faces. From birth to 5 years, children should reach certain milestones in how he or she plays, learns, speaks and acts, and delays in any of these areas could be a sign of a developmental problem. Therefore, it is important to talk to a doctor as soon as possible children display some of the warning signs below.

From the CDC’s Learn the Signs, Act Early campaign

Kentucky is one of 12 states with existing autism care insurance requirements, meaning that private insurance must cover autism treatment. Fortunately, there are many treatment options for autism in Kentucky that can generally be divided into four categories: behavioral and communication approaches, dietary approaches, medication and alternative medicine approaches. Click here for a full list of treatment resources or here for more Autism signs and symptoms.

In addition to when a parent is concerned, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be screened for general development using standardized, validated tools at 9, 18, and 24 or 30 months and for autism at 18 and 24 months. While autism spectrum disorders occur in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups, they are almost five times more common among boys than girls, says the CDC.

In order to make sure your child reaches his or her full potential, it is very important to get help as soon as possible if your child shows concerning symptoms, according to the CDC’s Learn the Signs, Act Early campaign.

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