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Autism: Probing An Expert (and a giveaway!) by Jacki Christopher

As April is Autism Awareness month, Welcome Baby Care wanted to make sure to cover this topic, promote awareness, and address some of the questions that pregnant moms and new parents have about autism. We are also offering a free-giveaway this week, so keep reading! Instructions below.

Yesterday afternoon, at an Easter service, I serendipitously found myself seated behind a woman who works as a research assistant in the autism research department of a large, prestigious children’s hospital. Having in mind that autism was the It’s My Baby Blog focus for this week, I apprised myself of the opportunity to ask her every question I could think of relating to autism. My only regret was not having a recorder to take down her insightful responses.

Causes. The first question on my mind was, what causes autism? We hear genetics, environment, vaccinations—which is it? Her answer was that autism is a product of both genetic and environmental factors. The latest research has established that. And that’s the best you have, I asked? Which environmental factors are to blame? Inconclusive. It could be several factors–researchers have been unable to establish a causal correlation between a particular environmental agent and autism.

Spectrum. Researchers and doctors classify and categorize autism on a spectrum because it is one condition that incorporates several characteristics of varying levels of severity. Asperger’s Syndrome, for example, considered a high-functioning form of autism, may receive its own classification outside of the spectrum in future years. The research that the lab performs helps them to observe autism and its myriad manifestations to be able to better diagnose and understand it.

Tell-Tale Signs. I asked about detection and what behaviors may tip a parent off to a child’s autism. She mentioned delayed verbal development as the primary indicator. Also, children who fixate on one task or one part of a toy, while disregarding the whole, or who repeat a word or action or sound over and over without stimulus (known as “perseverating”) may also be exhibiting signs of autism. How we act and function in the world and society is based in large part upon social cues and the actions of others around us—autistic children are unable (or less able) to process and act upon those cues. They may also exhibit trouble assimilating information in the memory. For example, a child may see a woman and remember nothing about her face or what she was wearing, but only her silver earrings or her green handbag. There would be no recollection or processing of her identity.

What’s Next. Doctors and researchers, in addition to seeking the answers to what causes autism, also spend much of their research energies in seeking therapies that support children and adults living with autism now. An interesting array of counseling techniques, occupational therapies, and even educational video games are being tested and employed to help those with autism live and thrive with a condition that continues to perplex even the finest doctors and researchers.

Stay tuned this week on It’s My Baby Blog to learn more about autism and how it affects families.

For information and resources, head to the website of the Autism Society. They are committed to supporting and advocating for families dealing with autism.

Also, forthcoming this month is the new autism-focused documentary, Wretches and Jabberers. See here for listings in your area.

Welcome Baby Care Free Giveaway!!

This week Welcome Baby Care is giving away a free copy of one of our postpartum doula favorites: Baby 411 4th edition, by Denise Fields and Ari Brown (click here for the book’s Amazon page). This comprehensive guidebook handles all the baby hot-button issues.  We love it!

To enter to win:
Comment below. Be sure to include your email address or a link to your contact info in your comment below.

Enter by Thursday (4/28) at midnight CST. One winner will be chosen at random using www.random.org on Friday (4/29) at 8:00 am CST.

Increase your chances to win by letting us know that you have done the following in the comment section (one comment per action–you can perform several actions and leave comments for each to increase winning potential!):

following@babycaretweets on twitter = 1 entry – Click here

“like” Welcome Baby Care on Facebook = 1 entry – Click here

link to this contest on twitter or facebook = 1 entry each

Sign up to have this blog mailed to you = 1 entry

Ready, Set, Go!

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