Jenny McCarthy has gone from a Playboy model, to comedian, and actress.  She is using her celebrity however, to draw attention to Autism and has written a book about her challenges and treatment approaches that have helped her son.  The diagnosis of Autism has exploded in the past ten years. It occurs in all ethnic groups, and is more likely to occur in boys than girls. In the early 1990′s, only one out over every 10,000 children were diagnosed with Autism. Today, the number of children diagnosed is approximately one out of every 110, according to the Center for Disease Control (www.CDC.gov). There are many theories as to the reasons for this increase, but the fact remains that if caught early, children with symptoms of Autism can receive treatment and may greatly improve their quality of life.  While parents do not need to study their infants and toddlers every move, worrying about signs of Autism, it is helpful to be aware of the major signals which warrant further investigation. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition, the criteria for a diagnosis of Autism includes but not limited to the following:

1.) Social Development:

2.) Communication:

3.) Behavioral: Repetitive behaviors

4.) Tactile sensitivities

5.) Picker eater

If you see one or more of these signs, it would be good to take your child to a professional. While starting off with one’s pediatrician is usually best, sometimes pediatricians won’t take these signs seriously. In that case, there are other professionals you can turn to, such as an Occupational Therapist. Speech Therapist, or mental health professional such as a counselor or psychologist. Professionals such as these frequently have good relationships with their peers such as pediatricians, psychiatrists, occupational and speech therapists, and can help point you in the best direction for you and your family.

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