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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – April is Autism Acceptance Month, a time to promote acceptance, celebrate the differences, and be more inclusive to people with Autism. The month was launched by the Autism Society in 1972.

In 2021, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 1 in 44 children in the US are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Boys are approximately 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.

Dr. Megan Crisler is the clinical director and a licensed clinical psychologist at Silver Linings Neurodevelopment. Silver Linings is a clinic that focuses on mental and behavioral health differences among children and adults.

Dr. Crisler described Autism as, “A way that the brain develops and it’s just a different outlook on the social world.”

When it comes to testing, Dr. Crisler told News 19 they look for a couple of main symptoms. “‘There are two key symptoms we look for. We look at how that person is communicating with the social world, but we also look at repetitive behaviors, sensory interests, and sensory sensitivities.”

Most parents first notice signs between 12 and 18 months. Dr. Crisler explained some of those early signs to News 19.

“It can be language, maybe it’s, you know they seem to have the same expression on their face all the time,” Dr. Crisler explained. “We don’t see them be unusually happy or angry, it’s usually just a flat expression. With their eye contact, they may not be looking at you as much. They may not be as interested in doing things such as peek-a-boo as a lot of babies are.”

When it comes to these signs Dr. Crisler emphasizes the importance of getting tested early, as early intervention can improve learning, communication and social skills.

She also told News 19 it is never a bad idea to get your child tested if you notice any signs.

“There’s absolutely no harm in doing these evaluations. I love when we get to test kids and tell a family everything’s great because at least we checked,” Dr. Crisler explained.

For more information on early signs and Silver Linings Clinic, you can visit their website.