Warning signs of autism

Sarah Clifford Scheflen, Speech-Language Pathologist, shares advice for parents on how to recognize the early warning signs of autism in young children
Early Warning Signs of Autism in Children
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Warning signs of autism

Some early warning signs of autism are lack of joint attention. Just how some children when they're learning, they point to show like, oh a tree and they want to share in that attention with you. Children with autism often lack that and you don't want to get confused because sometimes they might point to request they want something but it's that joint attention is different, you're actually pointing to share an experience with somebody else. It's maybe also picking something up and saying look or just holding an item up in front of you. And that's one of the hallmark deficits to catching autism early is the lack of joint attention. Also we're finding that children have lack of imaginary play. They may line things up, they spin wheels on cars, but they're not actually playing in imaginary. Also some early warning signs are lack of eye contact. They may resist cuddling or hugging. They also might have sensory issues. Noises. They might be covering their ears or different touches might bother them. A lot of the children have different sensory issues. They might be echolalic which they imitate back what is said to them. They also have difficulty with emotion and empathy. But the important thing with early diagnosis is if you're not sure, it's better to get help if you're thinking, 'hmm my child isn't doing this'. It's better just to go see somebody and check it out instead of wait because what's the worse thing that could happen you get some extra service or you get some extra help because the key with autism and making, having the best prognosis is getting the help early.

Sarah Clifford Scheflen, Speech-Language Pathologist, shares advice for parents on how to recognize the early warning signs of autism in young children


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Sarah Clifford Scheflen, MS, CCC-SLP

Speech Language Pathologist

Sarah Cilfford Scheflen, MS, CCC-SLP is a pediatric clinical speech–language pathologist who specializes in working with children with autism and other developmental disorders. She works exclusively with children, primarily between the ages of 12 months to eight years.

Sarah is the founder of Scheflen Speech–Language Pathology, Inc., her private practice in Santa Monica, California, as well as the co-founder (together with autism advocate Jenny McCarthy) of Teach2Talk, LLC, a producer of quality educational products including video–modeling DVDs that teach children a variety of skills including appropriate behavior, social skills, play and language. 

She is also the senior speech–language pathologist on staff at an intensive partial–hospitalization program for autism located at a major public research university located in Los Angeles, California, where Sarah has provided therapy to hundreds of children with autism spectrum disorders and conducted research into various treatment modalities. 

Sarah is a frequent speaker and guest lecturer, and her research focuses on teaching play, social skills and language to children through video modeling.

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