By: Ellen Spangenthal

Your two-year-old appears not to hear you when you call her name.  Your toddler seems disinterested in toys, but is fascinated by electric fans. Your eight-year-old has great difficulty making and maintaining friends.

Could it be autism?

April is National Autism Awareness Month. Autism affects 1 in every 68 children. It is a lifelong neurological disorder that affects a person’s communication, behavior, and social skills.  Although the cause is unknown and there is no cure, intervening early can dramatically improve a child’s outcome.

Autism is considered a “spectrum disorder” because if affects every individual differently and to varying degrees.  The first signs of autism usually appear before age three and include:

  • Delay or absence of spoken language
  • Little or no eye contact; seeming unawareness of others
  • Non-responsive to facial expressions/feelings of others
  • Lack of pretend play and/or interest in playing with or near peers
  • Repetitive movements (hand flapping, body rocking)
  • Over or under-sensitivity to sounds, sights, tastes, touch and smells


“Often parents take a ‘wait and see’ approach, hoping that their child will outgrow some of these issues,” said Stephen R. Anderson, Ph.D., BCBA-D, CEO of The Summit Center. “We encourage parents to take action and speak with their child’s pediatrician if they notice any of the warning signs. Getting help early is critically important.”

With 600 professional staff, and expertise in autism and social/emotional development, The Summit Center, located in Getzville, NY, offers more than 30 programs for children and adults in the areas of Early Intervention and Education, Behavioral Health, Community, and Adult services.

Summit’s programs employ the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) – identified by hundreds of scientific studies as the most effective method to teach individuals with autism.  “Using this approach, we’ll develop a plan that addresses a child’s specific areas of need, work with the child individually to make progress toward goals, regularly measure that progress, and make changes as needed to ensure success,” Dr. Anderson said.

For more information, visit, or call 716-629-3400.

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