Research shows autism now affects one in every 110 children in the U.S. That's a daunting number for parents, especially those who may be wondering if their child is suffering from the disorder. Now, there is help specifically for those parents.
Dr. Aimee Tisdale is the licensed psychologist who will lead a team of professionals on an exciting endeavor, helping families in our area cope with autism and other developmental disabilities. She's the director of a new facility in D'Iberville that offers a multitude of services.
Dr. Tisdale shows off one of several therapy rooms at the clinic.
"This is going to be our big therapy room, where eventually we would like to be able to have what we call one on one direct instruction with kids."
The large room will also allow children to interact with one another while parents and therapists observe unnoticed, behind a mirrored wall.
"So we're able to teach parents how to deal with what they have at home, and how to increase appropriate skills and how to decrease problem behaviors. Also provide some group counseling for the kids," explained Dr. Tisdale.
Dr. Tisdale says this center is really one-of-a-kind for our area, because it has the ability to offer so many resources to families dealing, not only with autism, but also other developmental disorders like Asperger's and Rett's Syndrome.
"There's definitely lots of things we can do here, and things we'll be able to do at this clinic," said Tisdale. "And other professionals that can help, too - like speech therapists and occupational therapists, physical therapists - they're all involved, and we hope to bring those people here, too."
The Mississippi Center for Autism and Related Developmental Disabilities is located on Suzanne Drive in D'Iberville. It opens in May, but there's already a waiting list. If you're interested in getting an appointment, just call (228) 396-4434. Dr. Tisdale says the center will not deny anyone service, regardless of their ability to pay.
April, by the way, is Autism Awareness month. Dr. Tisdale also shared some important advice for parents wanting to learn how to detect the disorder.
First, early detection is key. Dr. Tisdale says some parents can recognize symptoms of Autism as early as six months, others later. Every child is different, so it varies. Usually parents should notice those developmental delays by age three.
What to look for? Well, Dr. Tisdale says you should notice significant delays. If your child is losing skills, or you're not seeing progress toward certain goals, then that's when you probably need to go see your pediatrician or talk to a professional about getting an assessment.
And finally, the sooner the experts are able to start working with kids, the better.
To learn more about detecting autism, click here.
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