HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), autism affects an estimated 1 in 44 children throughout the United States. 

Some early signs of autism are loss of previously acquired speech, babbling or social skills, avoidance of eye contact, or difficulty understanding people’s feelings.  

Dr. Asim Zamir, a pediatrician with Valley Baptist Medical Center said till this day, autism continues to be a frequent diagnosis.

He said children with autism used to be seen as individuals who did not have the necessary skills for life to participate in the community but over time research has proved that wrong. 

While resources play a huge role in the development of an autistic child, Dr. Zamir said it’s important for parents to help guide their children. 

“Parents are the first teachers and from there the child gets more comfortable and that takes them to the school level where the teachers and therapists come in and then they go to the therapy places,” said Dr. Zamir. “That makes them more functional and more calm and learn better and progress their life.”

For some children, Dr. Zamir said sensory toys have become a common way to help children succeed in life because some have a sensorineural disorder that causes them to have a hard time learning, participating in a group play environment, or interacting with others. 

“We have seen these kids have interactions with specific colors, toys and so we build these toys that we call sensory toys…modify and use them as feedback to their sensorial system and adoption.”

He said sensory toys give experts a better way to understand and help autistic children. However, the type of sensory toys and resources for autistic children varies depending on where they are on the spectrum.   

Dr. Zamir said the goal is to help autistic children learn how to become part of society so that they too can have a better life. 

Several local groups committed to helping parents are Easterseals Rio Grande Valley and Team Mario, a support and education group in Edinburg.