Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is something that can strike fear in the hearts of parents.

By Eileen McNichols, Director of Community Health and Pastoral Care Services 

ASD is a developmental disorder that usually appears in early childhood. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual fifth edition (DSM-5) defines ASD as a disorder that includes communication difficulty, restricted behavior and interference with life activities. 

The severity of symptoms varies greatly.  

Although ASD is not something a child outgrows, it is treatable. The most important piece of information to know about ASD is that the earlier it is identified and intervention begins, the better the outcome for the child.  

There is no known cause of autism.  

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) identifies five behaviors that warrant further evaluation of young children: 

Child does not babble or coo by 12 months. 

Child does not gesture (point, wave, grasp) by 12 months. 

Child does not say single words by 16 months. 

Child does not say two-word phrases on his or her own by 24 months. 

Child has any loss of any language or social skill at any age. 

If a child exhibits any of these behaviors it does not necessarily mean that child has ASD. Regular follow up with a primary care provider who can track a child’s development and help to identify any areas of concern is critical for a child’s wellbeing. If you have any concerns about the children in your life, talk to their primary care provider. Remember, the earlier ASD is identified and intervention begins, the better the outcome for the child.  

Little Company of Mary Hospital has a team of experienced pediatric providers along with the presence of University of Chicago pediatric subspecialists to monitor and address any health pediatric concerns you may have about the children in your life. For a full list of children’s health specialists visit LCMH.org/UCM.  

Top Programs in June 

Little Company of Mary Hospital, 2800 W. 95th St. Info/registration: 708-423-5774. 

In Balance: The Ups and Downs of Blood Pressure, presented by Charles Lawler, MD, Thurs., June 7, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., North Pavilion Link, Room N1703. Free. 

Health Academy: The Bottom Line on Women’s Health, presented by gynecologist Marjorie Michel, MD, Mon., June 11, 11 a.m. to noon, North Pavilion Link, Room N1703. Free.  

Family Fun Nights: music, activities, food and fun for young families at neighborhood Metra stations, Thursdays, 5:30 to 7 p.m., June 14, 91st Street Station/Maggie Cosme Park; June 21, 99th Street Station; and June 28, 111th Street Station/Bohn Park. Events are held weather-permitting. Bring chairs and blankets. Free admission. Look for details in this issue of The Villager.  

Wake Up Call Screening, Sat., June 23, 7:30 a.m. to noon, by appointment. Assess your risk for heart disease and stroke. Includes comprehensive labs, ultrasound screening of abdominal aorta and carotid arteries, peripheral vascular screening, heart rhythm screening for atrial fibrillation and more.  LCMH Cancer Center. $155 ($4,000 value). Appointments required.