CORAL SPRINGS, Fla - With the number of autism cases growing, we decided to go to one of the leading authorities on the autism spectrum disorder to answer some questions about it. We went to Dr. Judith Aronson-Ramos, a board certified developmental and behavioral pediatrician who's been working with patients with autism for more than twenty years in South Florida.
The first question we asked:
What are the common misconceptions about autism?
"The misconceptions about autism are numerous. I would say the most prominent though is that it is a devastating disorder and a child is doomed to a lifetime of support and can never be independent and that's a complete fallacy. We know kids can go on to to college, some are pursing professional careers, a variety of different jobs so really there's no limitations."
What can parents do to help their children with autism?
"What parents can do to help their children with autism is a great question because there are a lot of things parents can do. In the home settng try to include children into the daily life, daily routine, play with their children, get eye contact from their children."
As children grow older, how much improvement can a parent expect?
"It depends on where you're starting from, but we do know that progress goes on lifelong so the early improvements we look for the most is language and communication because that's the barrier that determines where a child can progress too with autism. So development of language, we hope for it by the age of 8 to 10 years old, it's on the later side but we know even those kids who are non-verbal can make progress throughout their lives."
What's your best advice for parents?
The best advice I can give parents about their children with autism is to be very hopeful. There are new treatments and therapies being developed all the time, and also individuals with autism are making profound and great achievements so we never want to underestimate our children despite whatever problem they have. Quite often they can still lead very productive and full lives."
Dr. Aronson-Ramos knows firsthand what parents are facing. One of her daughters is on the autism spectrum and is currently in college.