Health Matters: Understanding Autism

According to the CDC, one in 68 children are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
If a child has autism, they often start showing signs before their first birthday.

While autism doesn’t affect every child in the same way, the sooner services are provided, the more likely the symptoms of it will be reduced.
It’s been almost 12 years since Sandy Smith was told of her son’s diagnosis.
“My son Tyler is 14 years old right now but he was diagnosed with autism when he was only 19 months old,” says Sandy Smith, founder of North Dakota Autism Center.
Smith says she struggled with finding services for her son, so she opened North Dakota’s Autism Center back in 2008, hoping to help families across the area.
“When families stop me and tell me I can’t even talk to you because I’m going to cry you have helped my family so much that I can’t even have a conversation with you because I’m just going to cry,” says Smith.
Dr. Boerger Wilder works with kids with autism every day.

She says while each child has different needs, each is delightful in their own way.
“I have yet to meet a child with autism or autism spectrum disorder that is the same. They are all very unique, very delightful little people that come into my office,” says Essentia Health Pediatric Psychologist, Dr. Jodi Boerger Wilder.
Most children with autism have difficulty communicating.
“They don’t understand sarcasm, or very literal in their communication skills so their day to day functioning is impacted by that,” says Dr. Boerger Wilder.
And while services do vary depending on the child, providers say the faster you can get the diagnosis, the better your outcome can be.
“Knowing now that the earlier we provide services to young children the more likely that the symptoms of autism will be reduced,” says Dr. Boerger Wilder.

Dr. Boerger Wilder says Parents Know is another organization that can help parents with screening to see if your child is where he or she needs to be.

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