Andrew's Answer, Savannah Speech and Hearing Center, along with the Matthew Reardon Center will sponsor a three-day workshop for parents and professionals about teaching communication skills to children with Autism or other developmental disabilities.

May 11, 12 and 13 at the Savannah International Trade and Convention center

Dr. Vincent J. Carbone is the featured speaker. For more information call 912-691-0790.


How early can one identify autism in a baby? Now, Canadian researchers say there are clear signs as early as 12 months of age.

There is a push lately to have parents know key developmental milestones, and to see if their children stray from the course. Experts say children who are diagnosed by age two had several markers for autism at one year of age.

“She has been hitting every single mile stone and we do see that she has been learning how to talk,. She’s certainly her vocabulary is starting, so we’re happy with the progress that she’s making,” says Nicole Lopen, Rachel’s mom. Little Rachel is a happy, healthy, and normally developing young girl. It helps, though, that her mom Nicole knew what to watch for.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 55% of parents with children younger than four years of age reported they do not know the early warning signs of autism, one of the more several developmental disabilities. 50% of autism cases remain unidentified until children are in kindergarten.

Experts agree, when you diagnose it early on you can intervene early.

Dr. Andrew Racien, the Director of Pediatrics at Montefiore Medical Center , says, “Autism really has to deal with 3 aspects of behavior. One of them is how children relate to their parents, the other is how they communicate. And the third is certain kinds of behaviors that are very stereotypic.”

Now Canadian researchers have become the first to pinpoint specific behavioral signs in infants as young as 12 months of age which can predict whether a child will develop autism.

These include:

--a passive temperament and decreased activity at six months followed by extreme irritability at 12 months;

--a tendency to fixate on objects

--reduced social interaction and lack of facial expression at 12 months

--fewer gestures, like waving bye bye or pointing at objects

--lower language scores, both in expression and understanding.

"So,for example, by the time babies are about 2 months of age or a little bit older, they begin to smile and that's a very important signal because what it is saying is that the baby is recognizing something in the image that they are looking at and they are responding in a social response. One of the characteristics hallmarks of autism that is children don't have that ability," says Dr. Racien.

The CDC has recently launched a campaign to get parents to learn developmental milestones and watch for them in their children. “If there is anything about their child’s development that they think is not what they anticipated, bring it up to the pediatrician,” Dr. Racien states.

He says don’t always be content with the first reaction you get from the pediatricians and the reasons of that is that pediatricians see your child for a brief period of time in the exam room, a somewhat artificial environment. Parents see their children everyday, 24 hours a day, and are overall much better observers.