What should we do if we think our child has autism?

Our Daddy MD Guide’s reply: “Early Intervention”: This is what I tell my patients about my son Ryan, who now lives independently in his own townhouse. By age two, I realized that his development was delayed, and I stepped in to get professional help for him. Coming home early, even at the risk of losing my job, didn’t keep me from learning what I needed to learn from speech therapists, behaviorists, counselors, and teachers. If in doubt of any developmental delays in your child, get second and third opinions. When you notice a problem at age two and begin to treat it by age three, fifty percent of the child’s life has gone by!

A word of advice for those parents with children with special needs: Avoid labeling your child as having autism, ADHD, etc. Focus on their happiness, and do not stereotype their disabilities. Focus on what they can do and not what they can’t do. Help them excel in their special arena of life. Once they have found an interest or skill set, new ideas and adventures can be brought into their lives through a medium they understand. For instance, a child that loves music can learn or enjoy other important concepts using music as the communication vehicle. For others, it could be with computers, comic books, etc. Notice what they excel in and build their future one brick at a time.

Larry A. Drum, MD, is the father of three sons. He is the CEO of Memorial Sports and Internal Medicine, the medical director and team physician for Long Beach State, and a three-time Summer Olympic Physician in 2000, 2004, and 2008.

Q&A by Wyatt Myers