Identifying the Signs of Autism Earlier will Lead to a More Productive Life

When Matt was a baby, his parents became concerned early that he never looked anyone in the eye, didn’t respond to sound, and missed several developmental milestones, such as pointing and waving. He was their first child and the possibility of autism was the farthest thing from their mind. To them, he was just a “late bloomer.”

When Matt began daycare, his teacher, who had some training in special education, was concerned by Matt’s developmental delays and behaviors and called his parents in to discuss the situation. His mother, Rebecca, was heartbroken by the idea and was in denial at first. When she got over the initial shock of what the teacher was saying, she and her husband, Steve, brought Matt in for an evaluation at a top local hospital and began therapy for him at 18 months old. Today, Matt is an outgoing 10 year old boy, who overcame most of the symptoms of autism, due to early intervention.

How early can you diagnose autism? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends screening children beginning at 18 months, but research suggests subtle warning signs may be apparent even earlier. The earlier a child is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, the earlier critical behavioral and learning interventions can begin.

According to Dr. Patricia Manning-Courtney, director of the Kelly O’Leary Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, at age six months, it is very difficult to distinguish kids with autism and kids without autism. From age 12 to 18 months, there may be subtle differences in eye contact, visual tracking behavior, and play. Children with an autism spectrum disorder may have more limited and repetitive play, less name response and social smiling, babbling, and gesture use. For more details on the signs of autism, see the href=”” target=”_blank”>Autism Speaks website.


There is no tailor-made treatment for all forms of autism. Different therapies that may work well in some individuals may be ineffective in others. However, there is one form of treatment that proves effective in every single application: early intervention. With incredible improvements in diagnostic techniques, specialists are now able to diagnose autism spectrum disorders in infants as young as six months . According to the AAP, “The earlier an autistic child receives care, the better his or her prospects for living a fruitful and productive life become.”

If you have a child who has been diagnosed with a special need, such as an autism spectrum disorder, as a parent or guardian you want to ensure that your child will remain financially secure even when you are no longer there to provide support.  A Special Needs Trust is a vehicle that provides assets from which a disabled person can maintain his or her quality of life, while still remaining eligible for needs-based programs that will cover basic health and living expenses.

If your special needs child will likely need care for life, it’s important to provide legal protections for your child. The Fairfax and Fredericksburg Special Needs Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. can guide you through this process. Be sure to check out our dedicated Special Needs Website at . If you have a loved one with special needs, call 703-691-1888 in Fairfax or 540-479-1435 in Fredericksburg to make an appointment for a consultation.

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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.

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