Pediatricians Advise Autism Screenings

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It's a statistic you may have heard before. One in 150 children in America is diagnosed with autism. New guidelines released Oct. 29 focus on early diagnosis and intervention.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is advising parents to have their children screened twice before age two.

"I have a five-year-old little boy named Christian and he has autism," admitted mother Tracy Butterfield.

It's something she discovered when her son was at a young age.

Since then, Christian's been going to school at the Western Kentucky University Early Childhood Center in Bowling Green.

"For my son, it was his speech that was his problem. He was so frustrated and yelling and crying," explained Butterfield.

Here, the staff knows the importance of getting a child screened for autism, starting as early as 12 months.

"The younger ones that we get make much more progress than the ones we get at three or three-and-a-half, or even four," said Lisa Murphy, Early Childhood Center teacher.

The screening's a simple process involving a series of questions for the parent to answer.

"Does your child play peek-a-boo, patty cake, do they wave bye-bye? Do they respond to their name when you can them?" Murphy asked.

And knowing for sure whether the child has autism or not, allows for the parent to start learning how to treat it.

"The very first thing my interventionalist did was tell me to put my hands on his face, and that was the first time I realized, we could connect with each other," Butterfield said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling for children to be tested twice before they're two, once to find symptoms of autism and a second time to see if they're still there.

Now, parents and pediatricians alike are spreading a similar message of awareness.

"Don't sit at home alone and worry. It's all about getting together with the community and helping your child," Butterfield advised.

On Monday, November 19, the Early Childhood Center will be holding a raffle. It's one dollar per ticket, with prizes ranging from Titans tickets to watches to savings bonds.

All raffle money will go to the Early Childhood Center.

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