Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April Declared Autism Awareness Month in Mobile

The staff at the University of South Alabama Pediatric Developmental Medicine and Genetics ROP clinic wear t-shirts in honor of Autism Awareness Day on Apr. 2, 2015.
The City of Mobile and Mayor Sandy Stimpson recently issued a proclamation declaring April as Autism Awareness Month in Mobile.

The proclamation was presented to Dr. Hanes Swingle, director of the University of South Alabama’s Autism Diagnostic Clinic, and the staff at the USA Autism Diagnostic Clinic in recognition of their ongoing commitment to serving families in Mobile and the surrounding areas affected by autism spectrum disorders.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a group of development disorders that affect communication and social interactions. ASD occurs before three years of age and can be detected as early as 12 months.

Dr. Swingle said some parents delay getting their children with autism identified because they are fearful of the diagnosis, thinking it is an untreatable condition.  “Autism is treatable,” he said. “Early efforts at improving a child’s communication skills can dramatically alter a child’s developmental trajectory.”

Despite awareness, many children on the autism spectrum are not identified early, when interventions are most effective. Dr. Swingle said it is important for parents to be aware of the common red flags for autism:

1) No pointing, babbling or using gestures by 12 months of age
2) No single words by 16 months of age
3) No two-word utterances by 24 months of age
4) Loss of language at any age

The proclamation was presented to Dr. Swingle by Angel Loewen, community and program coordinator for the Autism Society of Alabama in Mobile.

“The mission of the Autism Society of Alabama is to improve services for persons with autism spectrum disorders and their families through education and advocacy,” Loewen said. “We continue to look for ways to increase community awareness and involvement during the month of April and throughout the year.”

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