Monday is World Autism Awareness Day. The CDC now estimates one in 88 children has autism in the U.S. Experts say the best thing parents can do is educate themselves about the early warning signs.
Five year old David Karran was diagnosed with autism when he was two. "His first year I just noticed he was very unresponsive to me. He didn't have any language whatsoever, didn't want to imitate," said his mother, Vanessa Karran. "That's when I knew I needed to get early intervention."
His mom got him help right away. "Since he is non verbal, we're trying to get him to communicate by pointing to requests instead of grabbing like he normally would," said Melvina Hilliard, David's therapist.
While the symptoms of autism may not be obvious until after a child's first birthday, a recent study, Autism Speaks, shows an MRI can detect changes in the brain of autistic children as early as six months.
"Together with observations about behavior, early brain markers may give us a more accurate ability to predict who's going to have autism," said Dr. Joseph Piven with the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
Experts say the best thing parents can do now is lookout for early signs and have their child evaluated if they have concerns. Some red flags include no babbling, pointing, reaching, or waving by 12 months. No words by 16 months and any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age.
"You're basically their voice and you have to speak out for them," Vanessa Karran said. With early intervention, some children can make significant progress, and it can make it easier for the parents. "I'm reaching him in a way, even though he can't tell me, you know--talk back to me, I'm still reaching him and that means a lot to me," Karran said.
She says even little improvements make her optimistic about David's future.
Ines Ferre - CBS News