Autism Acceptance Month - A Message from Dr. Ellepola

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For Autism Acceptance Month we asked Dr. Ellepola to speak about autism and what parents of children with autism can do to help support, guide, and encourage them.

1. How do you help parents navigate guiding their children with autism to thrive in this demanding and high expectation world we live in?  

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a broad spectrum of disorders with challenges such as social skills, speech,  communication problems, and repetitive behaviors. We know according to the statistics of the CDC, 1 in 54 children in the US is affected by this disorder. As a board-certified pediatrician, I have many years of experience helping families of special needs children.  I am committed to identifying children who are at risk for developmental delays, facilitating these families with detailed guidance to ASD office visits, and providing key steps in identification, diagnosis, and management.  

We have well-trained medical staff who are familiar with the special needs of autistic patients. We will try to accommodate your schedule changes as needed with scheduling time, check-in process, and so on to accommodate their special needs and support them in any way we can, even if it means changing the times we can see these patients.

2. What would you say to parents about the balance of accepting where your children are in their development and encouraging them to strive for their personal best?   

Because autism is a spectrum disorder, the ways in which children with autism learn and think and solve their problems can range from highly skilled to severely challenged.  As a result, some individuals may need significant support in their daily lives while others may need less help.  I believe that as a pediatrician it is my responsibility to educate the caregivers on what to expect, recognize your child’s strengths and embrace them.  We as pediatricians and provide parents with expert recommendations, and practical ways to improve the lives of children with ASD and their families. 

3. How do you advise parents with regard to helping their child on the spectrum develop friendships with peers and siblings?   

First and foremost, it is important to educate parents or caregivers of autistic children and provide them with necessary resources or referrals.  Parents can then share this information with their families, siblings, and the community that interacts with their children.  These interventions will provide a better understanding of the special needs their child has and can prevent misunderstandings or other potentially negative interactions with their ASD child. 

4. What resources do you recommend for parents with children on the Autism spectrum?

I recommend that parents explore resources such as the American Academy of Pediatrics , Autism Parenting Magazine , and the Asperger/Autism Network ."

When parents are empowered with the knowledge to support their children with autism, they can share this information with their families, siblings, and their community so we all can #CelebrateDifferences.