Parents Guide

Developmental Red Flags every parent should be aware of

DEVELOPMENTAL RED FLAGS (1 TO 3 MONTHS)

  • Doesn’t seem to respond to loud noises
  • Doesn’t follow moving objects with eyes by 2 to 3 months
  • Doesn’t smile at the sound of your voice by 2 months
  • Doesn’t grasp and hold objects by 3 months
  • Doesn’t smile at people by 3 months
  • Cannot support head well at 3 months
  • Doesn’t reach for and grasp toys by 3 to 4 months
  • Doesn’t bring objects to mouth by 4 months
  • Doesn’t push down with legs when feet are placed on a firm surface by 4 months
  • Has trouble moving one or both eyes in all directions
  • Crosses eyes most of the time (occasional crossing of the eyes is normal in these first months)

DEVELOPMENTAL RED FLAGS (4 TO 7 MONTHS)

  • Seems very stiff, tight muscles, floppy, like a rag doll
  • Head still flops back when body is pulled to sitting position and shows no affection
  • One or both eyes consistently turn in or out
  • Persistent tearing, eye drainage, or sensitivity to light
  • Does not respond to sounds around them
  • Has difficulty getting objects to mouth
  • Doesn’t roll over (stomach to back) by 6 months
  • Cannot sit with help by 6 months (not by themselves)
  • Does not laugh or make squealing sounds by 5 months
  • Does not actively reach for objects by 6 months
  • Does not follow objects with both eyes
  • Does not bear some weight on legs by 5 months

DEVELOPMENTAL RED FLAGS (8 TO 12 MONTHS)

  • Does not crawl
  • Drags one side of body while crawling (for over one month)
  • Cannot stand when supported
  • Does not search for objects that are hidden (10-12 mos.)
  • Says no single words (“mama” or “dada”)
  • Does not learn to use gestures such as waving or shaking head Does not sit steadily by 10 months
  • Does not show interest in “peek-a-boo" or “patty cake” by 8 mos. Does not babble by 8 mos. (“dada,” “baba,” “mama”)

DEVELOPMENTAL RED FLAGS (12 TO 24 MONTHS)

  • Cannot walk by 18 months
  • Fails to develop a mature heel-toe walking pattern after several months of walking, or walks exclusively on toes
  • Does not speak at least 15 words by 18 months
  • Does not use two-word sentences by age 2
  • By 15 months does not seem to know the function of common household objects (brush, telephone, bell, fork, spoon)
  • Does not imitate actions or words by 24 mos.
  • Does not follow simple one-step instructions by 24 mos.

DEVELOPMENTAL RED FLAGS (24 TO 36 MONTHS)

  • Frequent falling and difficulty with stairs
  • Persistent drooling or very unclear speech
  • Inability to build a tower of more than 4 blocks
  • Difficulty manipulating small objects
  • Inability to copy a circle by 3 years old
  • Inability to communicate in short phrases
  • No involvement in pretend play
  • Failure to understand simple instructions
  • Little interest in other children
  • Extreme difficulty separating from primary caregiver

DEVELOPMENTAL RED FLAGS (3 TO 4 YEARS)

  • Cannot jump in place, ride a trike, copy a circle
  • Cannot grasp a crayon between thumb and fingers
  • Has difficulty scribbling and stack 4 blocks
  • Still clings or cries when parents leave him
  • Shows no interest in interactive games and Ignores other children
  • Doesn’t respond to people outside the family
  • Resists dressing, sleeping, using the toilet
  • Lashes out without any self-control when angry or upset Doesn’t use sentences of more than three words
  • Doesn’t use “me" or “you" appropriately

DEVELOPMENTAL RED FLAGS (4 TO 5 YEARS)

  • Exhibits extremely aggressive, fearful or timid behavior
  • Is unable to separate from parents
  • Is easily distracted and unable to concentrate on any single activity for more than 5 minutes
  • Shows little interest in playing with other children
  • Refuses to respond to people in general
  • Rarely uses fantasy or imitation in play
  • Seems unhappy or sad much of the time
  • Avoids or seems aloof with other children and adults
  • Doesn’t express a wide range of emotions
  • Has trouble eating, sleeping or using the toilet
  • Can’t differentiate between fantasy and reality
  • Seems unusually passive
  • Can’t understand two-part commands and prepositions (“put the cup on the table"; “get the ball under the couch")
  • Can’t give his first and last name
  • Doesn’t use plurals or past tense
  • Cannot build a tower of 6 to 8 blocks
  • Seems uncomfortable holding a crayon
  • Has trouble taking off clothing
  • Can’t brush teeth or wash and dry hands

Here are ten things every child with autism wishes,You Knew

1. I am a child.

My autism is part of who I am, not all of who I am. As a child, I am still unfolding. Neither you nor I yet know what I may be capable of. If you think of me as just one thing, you run the danger of setting up an expectation that may be too low. And if I get a sense that you don’t think I “can do it,” my natural response will be, why try?

2. My senses are out of sync.

This means that ordinary sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches that you may not even notice can be downright painful for me. My environment often feels hostile., but I’m just trying to defend myself.  A simple trip to the grocery store may be agonizing for me.

There are too many items for me to be able to focus (my brain may compensate with tunnel vision), swirling fans on the ceiling, so many bodies in constant motion. All this affects how I feel just standing there, and now I can’t even tell where my body is in space.

3. Distinguish between won’t (I choose not to) and can’t (I am not able to).

It isn’t that I don’t listen to instructions. It’s that I can’t understand you. When you call to me from across the room, I hear “*&^%$#@, Jordan. #$%^*&^%$&*.” Instead, come over to me, get my attention, and speak in plain words: “——, put your book in your desk. It’s time to go to lunch.” This tells me what you want me to do and what is going to happen next. Now it’s much easier for me to comply.

4. I’m a concrete thinker. I interpret language literally.

You confuse me by saying “a piece of cake” when there’s no dessert in sight and what you mean is, “This will be easy for you to do.” When you say, “It’s pouring cats and dogs,” I see pets coming out of a pitcher. Tell me, “It’s raining hard.” Idioms, puns, nuances, inferences, metaphors, allusions, and sarcasm are lost on me.

5. Listen to all the ways I’m trying to communicate.

It’s hard for me to tell you what I need when I don’t have a way to describe my feelings. I may be hungry, frustrated, frightened, or confused but right now I can’t find those words. Be alert for body language, withdrawal, agitation or other signs that tell you something is wrong.

6. Picture this! I’m visually oriented.

Show me how to do something rather than just telling me. And be prepared to show me many times. Lots of patient practice helps me learn.

7. Focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can’t do.

Like any person, I can’t learn in an environment where I’m constantly made to feel that I’m not good enough and that I need fixing. I avoid trying anything new when I’m sure all I’ll get is criticism, no matter how “constructive” you think you’re being. Look for my strengths and you will find them. There is more than one right way to do most things.

8. Help me with social interactions.

It may look like I don’t want to play with the other kids on the playground, but it may be that I simply do not know how to start a conversation or join their play. Teach me how to play with others. Encourage other children to invite me to play along. I might be delighted to be included.

I do best in structured play activities that have a clear beginning and end. I don’t know how to read facial expressions, body language, or the emotions of others. Coach me. If I laugh when Emily falls off the slide, it’s not that I think it’s funny. It’s that I don’t know what to say. Talk to me about Emily’s feelings and teach me to ask, “Are you okay?”

9. Identify what triggers my meltdowns.

Meltdowns and blow-ups are more horrid for me than they are for you. They occur because one or more of my senses has gone into overload, or because I’ve been pushed past the limit of my social abilities. If you can figure out why my meltdowns occur, they can be prevented. Keep a log noting times, settings, people, and activities. A pattern may emerge.

Remember that everything I do is a form of communication. It tells you, when my words cannot, how I’m reacting to what is happening around me. My behavior may have a physical cause. Food allergies and sensitivities sleep problems and gastrointestinal problems can all affect my behavior. Look for signs, because I may not be able to tell you about these things.

10. Love me unconditionally.

Throw away thoughts like, “If you would just—” and “Why can’t you—?” You didn’t fulfill every expectation your parents had for you and you wouldn’t like being constantly reminded of it. I didn’t choose to have autism. Remember that it’s happening to me, not you. Without your support, my chances of growing up to be successful and independent are slim. With your support and guidance, the possibilities are broader than you might think.

Three words we both need to live by Patience. Patience. Patience.

View my autism as a different ability rather than a disability. Look past what you may see as limitations and see my strengths. I may not be good at eye contact or conversation, but have you noticed that I don’t lie, cheat at games, or pass judgment on other people?

I rely on you. All that I might become won’t happen without you as my foundation. Be my advocate, be my guide, love me for who I am, and we’ll see how far I can go.

Here’s Why Free play is so vital to your child’s development

Children often shift from one set of scheduled, adult-supervised lessons and activities to another, after school and during holidays.

They do not get enough time for unstructured play ie free play.

Unscheduled, unsupervised, playtime is one of the most valuable educational opportunities we give our children.

It is the place where children strengthen social bonds, build emotional maturity, develop cognitive skills, and shore up their physical health. The value of free play,  daydreaming, risk-taking, and independent discovery have been much in the news this year, and a new study by psychologists at the University of Colorado reveals just how important these activities are in the development of children’s executive functioning. They found that children who engage in more free play have more highly developed self-directed executive function. The opposite was also true: The more time kids spent in structured activities, the worse their sense of self-directed control.

Free play is nature’s means of teaching children that they are not helpless. In the play, away from adults, children really do have control and can practice asserting it. In free play, children learn to make their own decisions, solve their own problems, create and abide by rules, and get along with others as equals rather than as obedient or rebellious subordinates.

Kindergarten teachers rank self-regulation as the most important competency for school readiness; at the same time, these teachers report that many of their students come to school with low levels of self-regulation.

When we reduce the amount of free playtime in preschools and homes, our children stand to lose more than an opportunity to play house, cops, and robbers.

Unstructured play time i.e free play time is very vital for the overall cognitive, physical, socio-emotional development of a child.

More free-play (read: screen-free) time is essential for their balanced development.

Parents, if you really want to give your kid a head start, relinquish some of that time you have earmarked for lessons or sports camp and let your children play. That’s it. Just play. Grant them time free from planned activities. Let them have dominion over their imaginary kingdoms while their imagination unfurls according to their whims and fancies