To mark World Autism Awareness Day, the National Autism Association and Neon, an FCB Health Network company, have launched Autism SOS, a new campaign that provides a quick, memorable acronym for the initial signs of autism in children between the ages of 12 months and 24 months that can be used by caregivers, teachers, and healthcare providers. Autism SOS highlights the three broad ways experts categorize these early signals:
- “S” – Social avoidance: Difficulty relating to other people and the world around them
- “O” – Obsession and repetition: Obsessive, repetitive or non-flexible behavior
- “S” – Speech delays: Difficulty communicating, both verbally and non-verbally
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 59 children in the United States has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Though very early intervention has been proven to maximize the impact of physical, speech and behavioral therapies, many parents and caregivers are unaware that detection is possible at an early age.
“While signs of autism vary widely in type and severity, early detection is key to improving long-term outcomes,” said National Autism Association President Wendy Fournier. “Our goal with Autism SOS is to help parents identify early warning signs so they can screen and start intervention as early as possible.”
Caregivers can share their stories on Facebook and visit AutismSOS.org to learn more about the symptoms of autism; download, print and share a series of Autism SOS awareness posters; and link to an online autism screening tool. Visitors also have access to a discussion guide on how to properly approach the caregiver of a young child they suspect may be showing signs of autism.
“Autism SOS started from the personal experience of one member of our team who has a child with autism and his desire to help other families facing the same issues,” said Neon Managing Director Kevin McHale. “The idea sparked passion from around the agency and network to bring this powerful message to parents and families struggling with recognizing the early signs of autism.”