AUTISM: how to prevent social & communication delays


How parents can  lessen or   prevent AUTISM symptoms in young children:  

Before birth: 

  • Ultrasounds:  Consider limiting the number of ultrasounds you as a pregnant woman undergo.  What is ultra sound?  You must know that “something” is passing through highly sensitive, quickly developing human tissue.  Do you really need to know the sex of your child?  Does your MD really need to know exactly how when the child is likely to be born so they can plan their time better?  Less is best for your child if merely done to know sex and date of birth.
  • Immunizations:  know what your MD or hospital will do right after birth concerning possible immunizations.  Does your child really need them? Learn and you  decide.  If  OK with your MD, stretch out the time between immunizations. For example instead of 3 on one day why not one shot  a week over the course of a month.
  • Improve & maintain your health while pregnant and after birth: what possible problems are likely given your family history? Depression? High blood pressure? Diabetes? Get prenatal medical advise. Know the  kinds of vitamins and what you can do to be optimally healthy.

After birth: 

  • Establish rhythms between child and parents and other care takers.  So that the child knows by the actions that occur   that someone will pick the child up, sooth with  their well known voices heard inutero and  feed and change the child as needed.
  • Talk to your child. Do so before birth and do so after birth. Keep it simple. Speak clearly and slowly. Look the child in their eyes when talking to them. From birth on, speak to the child with simple, caring language:  “Are you hungry?”  “Want to play?” “Time to stretch” ? “Are you wet?”  “How about a hug and kiss?” “Listen to this song.”  Use the words from birth that you want them to learn.  Keep it simple.  Lots of reinforcement.
  • Tell the child what you are doing and give the child time to respond to you.  Say, “Time for milk …”  or “Time to eat …”  and look at the child so the child can anticipate a bottle or breast. Connect your words and nonverbal actions so they child comes to expect what will occur having heard  your words and seen your actions. Anticipation is healthy for your child.
  • Know & respect the very different  temperments  young children have:   Is your child slow to warm up?  Highly active physically? Very regular in what they want for sleep and food?  Or is your child highly irregular and changeable moment to moment. You as the parent have to be flexible and — even though tired — willing to adapt to the needs of your child.
  • Create a warm, colorful, inviting physical and emotional envirnment for your baby:   things that dangle.  colors and shapes. soft and hard objects to touch. music that sooths in the background. darkness for sleep and light and sound for day time contact.

Get help:

  • Plan ahead and be nice to your mother-in-law or other persons who could step in and assist in the first few weeks.  Plan ahead so mother and father can have a break.  And, assuming your in-laws have had children (how else could you be there) also assume that they can act appropriately with your young bundle of love. Let them use their wisdom and knowledge and don’t make them do what you do.  Learn from your elders. Yes, what a thought for young mothers and fathers following the latest fads in child raising. 

What to know: The variations in normal development are immense.

Information about  the development of your child is vital:  Do keep track of your child’s development with smart phone cameras and old fashioned baby books.  Write down: age child first smiles? age child starts to kick arms and legs to get your attention? age child turns head towards you when you say his or her name?

Well Baby Checks: Write out a list of any concerns you have and take that list when you talk to you MD.  There are excellent check lists MDs can have you fill out concerning the issues that may suggest delays in social and communication development.

Seek early help:  There are twenty plus Regional Centers in California which  provide assistance for  young children  with developmental delays.  Parents can self refer or they can have their MD refer the child.  No diagnosis is necessary to get excellent assistance to assist your child’s development in the 0 to 3 age period.

This is just to get you going.  There are lots of books out there. If you have questions or comments sent them to: 

Dr. Jackson is a licensed California psychologist. She is employed part time for one of California’s regional centers. Dr. Jackson assesses children and adults and provides short-term therapy. Dr. Jackson has expertise in autism and other developmental delays. You can find additional information about Dr. Jackson on Monterey Bay Forum and on the Psychology Today website.  She may be contacted at P.O.Box 1972, Aptos, CA 95003  831 688-6002



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