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Hattiesburg doctor talks about Autism Acceptance Month

Published: Apr. 21, 2022 at 5:59 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 21, 2022 at 6:03 PM CDT
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - The month of April marks Autism Acceptance Month, bringing to light the condition that occurs in 1 in 44 children in the U.S. according to the CDC.

Connections Hattiesburg Clinic’s Dr. Carrie Morgan says there are signs families can look for if they suspect their child has delayed development.

“Early on, families should be looking for development of social communication skills,” said Morgan. “Things like maintaining eye contact, responding when their name is called or interaction with family members or children their age.

“Generally speaking, kids should be excited for peer engagement and social attention. They should be bringing things to you that they are excited about, pointing to things in their environment or talking about thoughts or feelings with words or gestures,”

Dr. Morgan says children typically start to show signs between ages two and three.

“So, what we usually do is we set up a play environment and we look for certain behavioral characteristics,” said Morgan. “We look for things like repetitive or stereotype behaviors hand flapping, finger flicking or body rocking we look for any repetitive language or being over-literal or scripted when they speak.”

According to Morgan, children with autism might also be sensitive to sensory inputs such as being overwhelmed in response to loud noises.

“You know autism is a diagnosis that is scary to a lot of people,” said Morgan. “They tend to avoid it, but, at the end of the day, the rule is the earlier the better.

“So, if you have concerns about delay development, it’s always better to get an evaluation, get plugged into treatment because we expect the prognosis to be much better if they have access to appropriate therapy whether that’s behavioral therapy, speech therapy, or physical or occupational.”

If a child is over three years old, Morgan says parents can contact their local school district for a comprehensive evaluation to see if the child is eligible for special education services or classroom accommodations.

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