Autism Awareness Month

by Nurse Rose Melendez | WGTS 91.9 FM

Did you know that autism affects 1 in 68 children in the U.S.? April is Autism Awareness Month, a time to educate ourselves about this fast-growing developmental disorder. Nurse Rose Melendez, RN, offers some tips to recognize signs of autism.

What is autism?

Nurse Rose: Autism, or autism spectrum disorders, refers to a group of neurological developmental disorders that impacts the normal development of social interaction, communication skills and cognitive function. Signs of autism may present as early as a few months old, and typically become noticeable before age 3.

How can a parent tell if his or her child might have autism?

Nurse Rose: Signs of autism generally present in two areas:

Social and communication difficulties

  • Suddenly withdrawn from or indifferent to social interaction
  • Failure to respond to their name
  • Avoiding eye contact with others
  • Delayed speech, repeating phrases and giving unrelated answers to questions
  • Speaking in flat robot-like or sing-song voice

Repetitive and characteristic behaviors

  • Repetitive movement or unusual behavior like flapping arms, rocking side to side or twirling
  • Preoccupied with parts of an object or obsessively interested in a particular topic
  • Emotional outbursts caused by changes to routine

What should parents who notice these signs do?

Nurse Rose: First, it’s important to remember that many autistic people can lead full lives with the proper help and support. If you notice these signs:

  • See the child’s pediatrician to get the proper screenings and support from pediatric specialists if needed, and
  • Get support, whether it’s a support group or website like There are plenty of online and community resources for parents of children with Autism.

Need diagnosis or support help for your child? Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center’s Pediatric Neurology Services offers a variety of services to help diagnose and manage developmental disorders like autism. Call 1-800-642-0101 or find a physician online.

Rose Melendez, RN

Rose Melendez, RN

Head of Emergency Department

Rose Melendez, RN is the head of the Emergency Department and Nursing Administration at Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center. Tune into WGTS 91.9 FM every Wednesday at 7:40 a.m. to listen to Nurse Rose live on the radio.

Need a Neurologist?

Call 240-826-5700 or click below to talk with a member of our Neurosciences team.