Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article # 328. Risk factors and Preparing for your appointment
Autism affects children of all races and nationalities, but certain factors increase a child's risk. They include:
· Your child's sex. Boys are four to five times more likely to develop autism than girls are.
· Family history. Families who have one child with autism have an increased risk of having another child with the disorder. It's also not uncommon for the parents or relatives of an autistic child to have minor problems with social or communication skills themselves or to engage in certain autistic behaviors.
· Other disorders. Children with certain medical conditions have a higher than normal risk of having autism. These conditions include fragile X syndrome, an inherited disorder that causes intellectual problems; tuberous sclerosis, a condition in which benign tumors develop in the brain; the neurological disorder Tourette syndrome; and epilepsy, which causes seizures.
· Parents' ages. There may also be a connection between children born to older parents and autism, but more research is necessary to establish this link.
Preparing for your appointment
Your child's doctor will look for developmental problems at regular checkups. If your child shows any autism symptoms, he or she will likely be referred to a child psychologist, pediatric neurologist or developmental pediatrician for a thorough clinical evaluation.
What you can do: To prepare for your child's appointment:
· Bring a list of any medications, including vitamins, herbs and over-the-counter medicines, your child is taking.
· Make a list of all the changes that you and others have observed in your child's behavior.
· Bring notes of any observations from other adults and caregivers, such as baby sitters, relatives and teachers. If your child has been evaluated by an early intervention or school program, it would be helpful to bring this assessment.
· Bring a record of developmental milestones for your child, such as a baby book, if you have one.
· Bring a video of your child's unusual behaviors or movements, if you have one.
· Try to remember when your other children began talking and reaching developmental milestones, if your child has siblings, and share that information with the doctor.
· Be prepared to describe how your child plays and interacts with other children, siblings and parents.
· Bring a family member or friend with you, if possible, to help you remember information and for emotional support.
Make a list of questions that you want to ask your child's doctor. Don't be afraid to ask questions any time you don't understand something. Questions to ask might include:
· Why do you think my child does (or doesn't) have autism?
· Is there a way to confirm the diagnosis?
· If my child does have autism, is there a way to tell how severe it is?
· What changes can I expect to see in my child over time?
· What kind of special therapies or care do children with autism need?
· How much and what kinds of regular medical care will my child need?
· What kind of support is available to families of children with autism?
· How can I learn more about autism?
What to expect from your child's doctorYour child's doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Be ready to answer them to reserve time to go over any points you want to focus on. Your doctor may ask:
· What specific behaviours prompted your visit today?
· When did you first notice these symptoms in your child? Have others noticed signs?
· Have these behaviours been continuous or occasional?
· Does your child have any other symptoms that might seem unrelated to autism, such as stomach problems?
· Does anything seem to improve your child's symptoms?
· What, if anything, appears to worsen your child's symptoms?
· When did your child first crawl? Walk? Say his or her first word?
· Does your child have delayed speech?
· What are some of your child's favourite activities? Is there one that he or she favours?
· How does your child interact with you, siblings and other children? Does your child show interest in others, make eye contact, smile or want to play with others?
· Have you noticed a change in your child's level of frustration in social settings?
· Does your child have a family history of autism, language delay, Rett syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or anxiety or other mood disorders?