A QUESTION FROM A READER
[Baby] shakes his hands at the wrist like he is revving up a motorcycle. He does this a lot. He is 8 months does not sit up well or hold his bottle much. Should we be concerned? Thank you.
STELLAR CATERPILLAR’s REPLY
Today I hear many parents and grandparents expressing concerns about baby’s development out of fear that something that is happening or not happening may indicate a neurological condition such as autism. With the number of babies and children diagnosed with autism on the rise, it makes sense that many are concerned that their child or grandchild may be one of those babies. Although hand shaking is an early sign of autism there are many babies who shake their hands yet do not have autism. Take time to learn some hands-on playful activities to facilitate motor skill development with baby at home. For the baby in the above question, learn some activities for developing motor skills such as lifting the head and improving the use of baby hands. If your baby has autism, it may not show until later and he will be much better off from these lessons. If your baby does not have autism, these lessons will teach him to move with much skill and coordination and he will emerge from infancy with a strong self-image.
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR PEDIATRICIAN
The most important point I can express to a parent is that it is important to always express your concern to your pediatrician. If the pediatrician sees something of concern in baby’s development, he or she may refer baby to physical or occupational therapy. In most states this service is free for babies under the age of three. Some babies are absolutely healthy, but for whatever reason they just need extra work. The key here is that the sooner they get the work the better off they will be for the rest of their life. Remember that expressing a concern does not invite a diagnosis that is etched in stone. It is a dialoge that evolves as the child grows and develops and is adjusted accordingly.
MOTOR SKILL LESSONS BENEFIT ALL BABIES
When they are young they are establishing the patterns of how they move and use their body and it is extremely effective to work with them during this time. In fact, all babies benefit from movement lessons, especially during their first year when their motor habits are forming so clearly in their brain. Healthy babies develop tremendous skill in their movement and become very coordinated and graceful from movement lessons. If a baby has autism which is undiagnosed, motor skill lessons may improve their use of their body and minimize some of the signs of autism. If you are a grandparent, you may want to take a virtual lesson with Stellar Caterpillar to learn how to work with your grandchild when you spend time with him. If you have a doll or a stuffed animal, you can learn baby developmental tips from a virtual lesson.
EARLY SIGNS OF AUTISM IN BABIES
Autism is typically not diagnosed until around the age of three. However, today there is an increasing success in diagnosing autism at an earlier age. According to the Mayo Clinic, some babies may develop rather normally until they reach their third birthday and then the signs are more prevalent. The Mayo Clinic categorizes the areas of a child’s development that is affected by autism as either social interaction, behavior, and/or language. Here are a few early signs of autism as identified by the Mayo Clinic:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Disliking the touch of a parent
- Not making babbling or cooing sounds by first birthday
- Repetitive movements such as hand flapping, rocking, or spinning (age 1-3)