Autism: Early interventions is the key

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LAS VEGAS, Nevada (KSNV) — Claudia Membreno’s son David was diagnosed with autism when he was 2-years-old.

Now 5-years-old, David is on the right track.

“At two and a half he wasn’t talking,” said Membreno. “Now he talks a lot. So that’s a really good thing.”

David’s words are a win in the battle against autism’s primary characteristic: difficulty in communicating.

“He tells me what goes on in school, then before he couldn’t tell me that,” said Membreno. “So that’s a really big step for David and myself knowing exactly what goes on in his class.”

And David is in a regular pre-school class, after advancing from a class for autistic children.

His mom credits his success to therapy that started early.

“As soon as you find out your child has autism, look for the services because you will see a difference,” said Membreno.

“The key is to get early intervention,” said Lena Sankovich, a behavior analyst at Southwest Autism & Behavioral Solutions where David receives therapy. “The key is to get services early.”

Sankovich said an autism diagnosis does not mean that person cannot achieve just as much as someone without the disorder.

As part of National Autism Awareness Month, she and other autism advocates want the public to be aware of that.

“There is a big misconception about that, and these kids can do anything they want to do,” said Sankovich.

But signs of autism, such as not talking by the age of two, should not be ignored said behavior analyst Vanessa Fessenden.

“Pediatricians, families will often just say, ‘Oh, you know he’ll start talking when he’s ready or she’ll start talking when she’s ready, and often the children won’t get the services quick enough,” said Fessenden.

Fessenden said a few signs of autism are lack of eye contact, lack of social interactions, not using gestures such as pointing and not putting words together by two-years-old.

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