Is it Autism? Symptoms to notice and where to begin.
Is it Autism? Symptoms to notice and where to begin.
The more I learn about autism the more I notice how much I see it all around me. What I mean by that is exactly what it sounds like. I see autistic symptoms and behaviors all the time now that I know what to look for. I sometimes think I’m just hyper-sensitive or hyper-aware of autism symptoms because I’m constantly on the look out for them in my home. Often times I have to remind myself that 3 years olds do just act goofy and weird sometimes and not to read too much into everything. But at the same time, I am beginning to think that as more and more kids are showing up with these similar symptoms, the ones that I notice all around me, that they will just become accepted as the new norm. Now I have to say…I’m not placing a judgement on anyone, any behaviors, symptoms or autism itself. I see many actually wonderful qualities within the spectrum in fact. But I also see a lot of pain. I see kids suffering and trying to figure out how to communicate and be part of a world they somehow seem to feel disconnected from. I see many kids suffering from digestive distress of one kind or another. Kids that are picky eaters, have difficulty with transitions, suffer with sensory processing disorders and the list goes on and on. I have seen my own child suffer with all of these and more. And more importantly I have seen him heal and recover from the majority of them. If I had no hope, there would be no point of talking about this. But I know there is hope for the suffering. I believe so strongly that kids can heal and get reconnected to themselves and their world. So this is why I write this, why I share a deeply personal story and want more and more awareness about autism in general. The fact of the matter is that it’s not going away, it’s not just someone else’s kid…it’s increasing rapidly. Recent estimates suggest 1 in 45 kids will be diagnosed with autism in the US and 1 in 28 boys. That explains what I see all around me.
But what is it? What am I seeing? Let me explain. See I have two little ones. One that has officially been diagnosed on the spectrum and the other not. So I get to see both sides every day. It makes the subtle differences much easier to discern when you have the opposite to look at every day as well! Now this isn’t going to be a checklist or anything you might find on another website to help you assess whether your child is on the spectrum. There are plenty of those already. No, what I’m talking about is that gut feeling, that mother’s instinct that sets of the warning bells inside your head when you know something isn’t quite right with your child. It doesn’t have to be autism symptoms either. We mom’s are well equipped to sense lots of things in our kids if we are paying attention. If you are a mom then you know what I’m talking about. That sense that a cold is coming on when there isn’t even a runny nose yet. I mean, look, I’m no doctor…but sometimes you just know! Well, that’s how I feel about autism. By all means I think getting a professional diagnosis is essential…but there is a gut feeling that many have felt that led them into the doctors office in the first place. It’s those little things like if your child plays with toys in a slightly unusual way, not as creative perhaps, or maybe in an almost obsessive manner. When they don’t like certain places or sounds for some reason that they can’t explain. Sometimes it’s pretty obvious, for instance, if they don’t look at you or anyone else in the face or respond to their name when you call them. There are so many signs…and believe me…they can start very small. You don’t have to get gobsmacked by autism symptoms to feel its presence. From my experience autism symptoms come on slowly and gradually. They don’t just show up all at once.
Speaking of those handy quizes that you can find all over the internet that tell you if you should be concerned about your child…well there is only one that I have really found to be quite helpful. If you aren’t sure, go over to the Autism Research Institute and take the test called the ATEC. This is the Autism Treatment Evaluation Checklist. I use this test to keep track of the symptoms and progress. It was designed for parents that are treating a child with diet, supplements and any other means of natural treatments. But what it also is, is an invaluable tool to give you some insight into what symptoms really look like, on paper. DON’T use the test as a diagnosis tool. It’s not intended for that. But I am recommending it to you because I think when you need a starting point…it is a really great place to start. It might be the clues you need to understand the symptoms you are seeing a little better and begin linking them together in a meaningful manner. Click here for the test and then scroll down and find the link that says “ATEC in English” and that will take you to the test.
I believe that there is a chance that if you start noticing subtle symptoms and try some treatments early on, you might never have to receive an actual diagnosis. The turnaround we have witnessed in our son has been dramatic. When we started him on the GAPS diet his symptoms began to dimish very rapidly. The first time I took the ATEC for him, we had already been doing treatments for a few months so I don’t know what his starting out score would have been for sure. I can say I am certain it would be much higher because I just know how bad many of his symptoms were at that time. But his first score was a 43. The highest is a 180. From my research, most younger children won’t score that high ever..the symptoms tend to become more defined as kids age. Some kids might, don’t get me wrong, but this is just my understanding based on averages. So I would guess his initial or “starting” score would have likely been in the 60’s. And now, I am so thankful to be able to say that he only scored a 15 the last time I took the test! That huge difference came in only 7 months on the GAPS diet and supplements. He also received treatment from a naturopath as well. I wouldn’t say he is absolutely cured yet or anything…but almost all of his autism symptoms have healed. The best part is that he just exudes happiness now in a way that he couldn’t before. He is reconnected to all of us. I can honestly say I feel like we “brought him back” so to speak.
You can read more about the our journey with GAPS here and my post about supplements here! I hope this is helpful and encouraging. It is my sincere wish that one day autism rates will begin to decline. Until then, I want to encourage parents to give treatments a shot. You have nothing to lose by trying something and so much to gain!
Let’s create a healthy life for our kids!