We want to “Light It Up Blue” for Autism Awareness Month as we begin the month of April. Many people suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorder which is a developmental disability that can cause significant social communication and behavioral challenges.
I’ve had the opportunity to interview Mr. Carmen Fluellen. He shared his story and experiences about his son Camden, now 3 years old. Camden was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder Level 3 for Social Communication and Level 2 for restricted repetitive behaviors. Mr. Fluellen said he first noticed or speculated that something may be wrong when Camden was about 14 months old. He observed that Camden was hitting all his milestones, walking, babbling, standing up, and meeting the normal age criteria. He also noticed that there was no consistency, so that caused concern. Mr. Fluellen states that his daily activities are affected because it takes a little more time and patience when it comes to getting Camden ready and getting his day started.
Autistic children need a lot of strong routines set in their lives to help them get on a steady track. Mr. Fluellen also says that it takes a little bit more persistence with getting Camden to do things and that’s just because autistic children see the world in their own mindset. It takes a lot of understanding and patience taking care of someone with this disorder. “It comes with many sacrifices due to different mandatory therapy sessions in which his mother Alexcia, and I attend weekly”, said Mr. Fluellen. During the interview I asked Mr. Fluellen, “If you could ask your family for more support what would it be?” He answered, “the biggest thing that has helped us out was making my family aware. I suggested to them to research and listen to what I have to say about the development issue and be ready to step in and help out. Because children take a lot of nurturing and it takes a lot for some children to learn so it’s going to be an all-around effort.”
Fluellen has advice to parents or any family member for early detection stating, “If you have a question, just go to the doctor or a specialist because it doesn’t hurt to get the child evaluated.” He describes his son Camden as “special, he’s awesome, he’s autistic.”
While speaking to a healthcare professional at Pediatric Associates of Savannah I found those behavioral signs can begin from 6-12 months old. Some symptoms you should be aware of are behavioral disturbances, delay in learning to speak, lack of empathy, not engaging in play with peers, repetitive movements, and problems with two-way conversations. If your child is experiencing any of those symptoms or signs or even if you are uncertain about something, do not hesitate to fill out a Milestone checklist from CDC.Gov/Milestones and bring it to your child’s next doctor visit.