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April 26, 2014

Family raises autism awareness

(Continued)

MOORE —

Despite all of the unsolicited advice, the Browns set out to find Lila help. Uncovering developmental concerns and acting early is the best way for families to access the services and supports their children need.

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability characterized, in varying degrees, by persistent difficulties in social communication and restrictive and repetitive behaviors, interests or activities.

Early screening and intervention at younger ages helps children get the most effective treatments. Yet the CDC found that most children with autism are diagnosed after age 4, even though autism can be diagnosed around age 2.

“This is the one piece of advice I got: Trust your gut. Everything we read now says early intervention is key,” Brown said.

Catching potential developmental delays like autism spectrum disorder early can make a big difference in the lives of those children. Parents can track their child’s development with milestone checklists and health care providers now have easy-to-use resources for screening children through the new Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! initiative.

“The thing that probably helped us the most was Sooner Start,” Brown said. “We’ve seen a noticeable improvement.”

Lila started therapy with Sooner Start at 15 months and her parents say it has made a huge difference.

Sooner Start, Oklahoma’s early intervention program, is designed to meet the needs of infants and toddlers with disabilities and developmental delays. Infants and toddlers through 36 months of age who have developmental delays or have a physical or mental condition which will most likely cause a developmental delay are eligible for services.

After weekly therapy sessions with a Sooner Start therapist and daily therapeutic work at home, Lila has started to interact — on her own terms — with her parents. She will now bring a toy to her parents to have it turned on. This small gesture is a huge triumph for the Browns.

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