Awareness is Key In Diagnosing Autism - WSET.com - ABC13

Awareness is Key In Diagnosing Autism

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Lynchburg, VA - Awareness could be the key to diagnosing autism.

A center in Lynchburg is responding to a report by the CDC that finds one in 68 children has autism. Damien Murtagh of the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center said he credits awareness with the successful diagnosis of so many autism cases.

Since parents and teachers now know the signs of autism, they can better detect it, and early detection is one of the most crucial factors in treatment.

"Most people are more aware. It's getting more publicity and more attention and as a result, parents are taking their children to be evaluated earlier," said Murtagh.

For nearly 20 years, Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center has been a resource for children diagnosed with autism. The students work on language, behavioral skills, academics, and activities of daily living year round.

"There's no real claim that autism can be cured or that somebody will be recovered through behavior analysis but we work really hard at hitting as many important skills as possible," said Murtagh.

The trained staff use one of the most scientifically based methods of instruction, applied behavior analysis, to teach the students.

"From that we designate goals and target those skills that are most important and most needed right now and then build on those as progress comes about," said Murtagh.

When Murtagh started working in the field nearly 15 years ago, the number of children with autism was 150. He says early detection is key.

"The sooner the better, if parents ever have concern about their children's progress it's really important that they don't wait," said Murtagh.

Despite better tools for diagnosis and awareness, Murtagh said the sheer number of people with autism is on the rise.

"The likelihood is, we have more people with autism than we have ever had in our lives and even though we are better at finding it, there are more people with autism to find," said Murtagh.

Here are some red flags to look for when looking for signs of autism:

If your child is not speaking at all, or not speaking in ways that are developmentally appropriate.

They are sensitive to routines.

Picky with foods or textures.

Has to do things in a repetitive way.

Not playing with toys in an age appropriate way.

Murtagh said these warning signs do not mean your child has autism , but you should not wait if you have concern; go get them evaluated.

 

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