Recognizing Autism

Recognizing the Signs of Autism – to decrease rate of drowning

Young children are interested in and curious about water. For anyone who lives in Florida, you don’t have to look very far to find a pool, lake, pond, or canal. The combination of these two create a dangerous situation for every family that includes young children. 

Last year in Florida, 76% of the 88 children who died from drowning were under the age of 4. According to the Center for Disease Control, autism is still being diagnosed on average at age 4.5. What this tells us is that a great deal of these children could have been children who would have later been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, especially since nearly every one of them were reported to have wandered away from the safety of a caregiver, which is extremely common in children with autism. Early diagnosis saves lives! From the moment we learn about challenges our children may have, the earlier the interventions can begin – and swimming lessons should be included in that intervention process. If you are unsure of the signs of autism, this checklist can help: 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, children or adults with ASD might:

  • flap hands, rock body, or spin self in circles
  • not point at objects to show interest (for example, not point at an airplane flying over)
  • not look at objects when another person points at them
  • have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all
  • avoid eye contact and want to be alone
  • have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
  • prefer not to be held or cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to
  • appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds
  • be very interested in people, but not know how to talk, play, or relate to them
  • repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language
  • have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions
  • not play “pretend” games (for example, not pretend to “feed” a doll)
  • repeat actions over and over again
  • have trouble adapting when a routine changes
  • have unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound
  • lose skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using)
  • Lack of fear or more fear than expected

 Share with your pediatrician any concerns that you have. If they tell you to “give it time, don’t compare her to her sister, he’ll grow out of it”, etc… contact the Autism Society of Florida, Centers for Autism and Related Disability (CARD) in your area, or developmental pediatrician. Early identification is always a good idea, and in fact, saves lives.