Peggy HallidayPeggy Halliday is a board certified associate behavior analyst who has specialized in autism education for the past ten years. She is the Director of Outreach Services at the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA) in Charlottesville, VA. VIA is a non-profit organization which provides a day school and other resources for families, educators, and other professionals seeking services, training or information about autism and evidence-based interventions. The Institute operates a year-round school for students ages 2-22, a 700-volume library, training workshops, internships for undergraduate and graduate students and teachers, and customized trainings for schools. Peggy supervises a wide range of outreach services, including development and supervision of comprehensive, home-based early intervention programs incorporating naturalistic, incidental, and structured teaching using the principles of applied behavior analysis; training for parents and home instructors; skills assessments, functional behavior assessments and intervention plans, and consultation on Individual Education Plan goals. She has presented trainings and workshops at state and national conferences.
Host: What are some of the signs and symptoms to parents that their child may be affected with autism?
Peggy Halliday: Typically developing babies are very social. If they smile at you when you smile at them they initiate smiles, they turn their head when they hear their name called, they respond and become very familiar with their parents voice or their caregivers voice and children with autism do not smile as readily, they may not smile at all or just not as often as you would expect them to smile. They may not turn their head when they hear a parent s voice.
Typically developing babies also are extremely interested in other children and even before they get to the age where they can really play they are really noticing what is going on, whereas children with autism even infants are more self-contained often more interested in objects. The play when the play does start to develop is different, a child with the autism will not imitate as readily as other children, so the kinds of play that you would do with an infant like, paddy cake and how big are you, so big where the baby copies you a lot of times children with autism are not doing these things.
There are other signs and symptoms with a different type of autism called regressive autism, where up until 12 to 15 or 18 months of age the child develops normally and does start talking, does have some words, does have some social gestures, but suddenly or perhaps gradually these things go away and disappear, they may suddenly stop talking or just overtime parent notice, there are not saying those words that they were saying anymore and this regressive type of autism is a great cause for concern. Any of these, regression in skill should be a huge red flag to parent that something may be wrong.