New video helps parents spot autism signs early

BALTIMORE - There's a new resource available that's making it easier for parents and doctors to spot the early signs of autism.

Researchers at Baltimore's Kennedy Krieger Institute have created a free online video tutorial to help spot the signs of autism in a 1 year old.

Playing and socializing happens naturally for kids. But not for those with autism spectrum disorder.

That was the case for little Kevin who was diagnosed with autism soon after his second birthday.

"I noticed his eye contact was fleeting, he also had some difficulty with play skills, he didn't know how to play with toys," said his mom, Alyssa Carro.

After consulting a pediatrician, Carro brought him to Kennedy Krieger. He underwent early intervention and it changed everything, she said.

"It has made all of the difference. He is speaking, he has great joy and attention," Carro said.

To help other parents spot the early signs of autism, Kennedy Krieger doctors have distributed the free online video tutorial to pediatricians throughout Maryland.

It has also been posted on YouTube.

See the video below. Mobile users, click here: http://bit.ly/15bwdFI

The nine-minute video shows clips of 1-year-olds who are developing normally and compares it to children with autism spectrum disorder.

Dr. Rebecca Landa, director of the Center for Autism and related disorders at Kennedy Krieger says the video shows "a child not responding to his name and a child who's playing with a toy phone but not sharing it with others or not giving it to others. And here's a child who's looking at toys, playing with people, sharing them with people, pretending, creating play sequences."

Because the signs in a 1-year-old can be subtle even for doctors, parents say seeing it demonstrated in a video is helpful. "That way you have a landmark with what you should be seeing in a 1 year old and then you have a landmark for what it looks like if those things aren't there," Landa said.

Kevin's mother agreed.

"I had some things where I'm like, well, my son does this, but he doesn't do this, maybe I'm overreacting, maybe it's not that big of a deal, maybe it's just regular behavior. This video takes away those questions," she said

The free online video tutorial can be found on Kennedy Krieger's website, http://www.kennedykrieger.org/patient-care

(Wendy So is the health reporter for Scripps station WMAR-TV in Baltimore, www.abc2news.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.shns.com.)

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