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National Autism Awareness Week - March 29th – April 4th

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According to the Autism Society website, “Autism is a complex, lifelong, developmental disability that typically appears during early childhood and can impact a person’s social skills, communication, relationships, and self-regulation.” (Autism Society, 2021)

Bakersfield Behavioral Healthcare Hospital recognizes the importance of bringing to light relative information that can help our community. March 29th – April 4th marks National Autism Awareness week and therefore we felt that it was an ideal time to share with the community helpful information, signs and symptoms to look for, and resources for the entire family.

According to the Autism Society website as qtd by the CDC, “In 2018, a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concludes that the prevalence of autism has risen to 1 in every 59 which was twice as great as the 2004 rate of 1 in 125.” (Autism Society, 2021)

As the prevalence of autism rises, so does the opportunity to start having more candid conversations on the topic. As with many topics, many wince from having open and honest talks, especially when it relates to their children.

Some early signs to look for:

  • Speaks later than typical or not at all (nonverbal)
  • Repetition in language or movement, such as repeating the same word or sounds, hand flapping, or any repeated movement
  • Atypical nonverbal communication, including avoiding eye contact, giving few facial expressions, or having a monotone
  • Prefers solitary or parallel play rather than engaging in associative or cooperative play with other children
  • Extremely distressed by changes, including new foods or changes in schedule
  • Preference for predictable, structured play over spontaneous or make-believe play
  • Strong, persistent interest on specific topic, part of a toy, or item

What do you do if you think your child might be on the autism spectrum? As with anything else, it’s important that you seek out help. Make it a point to reach out to your pediatrician and discuss with them your concerns and ask about next steps. It’s also very helpful to know what resources you have at your disposal. There are wonderful local non-profit organizations in the Kern County area that not only can provide you with the needed support you will need, but also some direction on those next steps.

As with any new challenge in our lives, it’s important to take time to focus on your health through it all. Make sure that you are remembering to take active steps to promote healthy mental health habits in your home.

  • Go on frequent walks
  • Create a journal of events and feelings
  • Write down reasonable and attainable goals for each day and/or week (when we are able to check off a task, it helps promote a feeling of accomplishment)
  • Decide on your boundaries and limits and share them with those that are close to you
  • Take a warm bath
  • Exercise or do yoga
  • Meditate
  • Make new recipes

Whatever it is that helps you to recharge, make sure that you are doing it every day. The aforementioned suggestions do not have to take a large chunk out of your day, they can take anywhere from 5-50 minutes depending on your schedule and ability.

Remember that it’s ok to ask for support when its needed, and if you are struggling, please reach out for help.