Family Guidance Title

Working with Parents

Parents are a vital source of early detction for developmental delays in their children. For many children with autism that are not detected before the age of 3, a frequent pain for parents is that they have been told by physicians that "Don't worry, let's see if he grows out of it" or "Boys are slow to start talking."


  • Are aware of the possibility of autism
  • Do have concerns when something is wrong
  • Do give accurate and reliable information about their children
  • Need your questions to generate discussion about their child’s development

Child care providers are also a good resources when addressing developmental concerns of a child

Parents are now more aware of autism symptoms due to extensive coverage of ASD in the media. Thus, they are more likely to raise concerns about the possibility of autism. The first thing the primary physician can do is to listen to the parents and take their concerns seriously.

Catherine Lord, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago, found in her research that parents of children with autism were the only group of parents to spontaneously express concern about their child’s social development.

When a child is at risk for autism, their caregiver will typically first raise concerns about “delayed speech.” An earlier, but less commonly expressed concern, is that of a hearing impairment. The apparent hearing deficit is atypical in that symptoms are inconsistent. For example, although the child does not respond to his/her name being called or to verbal commands, he/she seems to hear environmental sounds well.

Finally, parents may state that the child does not seem to notice when they enter or leave the room, that there is little or no eye contact, or that the child seems to be in her own world. Therefore, while parents may not know what is afflicting their child, they know that something is wrong. The key is for you to listen to their concerns and ask them the right questions.

Also in trying to see the full picture of child’s behavior, the child care provider can provide a wealth of information. Often child care providers see the children as much or more than the parents and might have observed some of the same behaviors. Physicians and nurses might consider asking parents, “has your child care provider expressed any concerns about the child,” or asking if they can contact the child care provider directly.

First Signs

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Tiny gene mutations, each individually rare, pose more risk for autism than had been previously thought, suggests a study funded in part by NIMH.

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Richard, Age 54