Should I talk to the parents of a 2-year-old at my daycare who says few words and plays alone?

Q: I run a day-care center and am worried about one of the kids. He's 2 and says only three words. He doesn't play with the other children, and he talks to himself a lot. He also adopts a habit and repeats it often. Should I talk to his parents?

A: I think you need to speak up. It sounds like this child may be exhibiting signs of autism, and if he is, early intervention can be very beneficial. When you approach the parents, be honest but sensitive. Tell them you've cared for many children and have noticed that their son is speaking later and playing a little differently than most. If they ask what you suspect, simply say your experience shows that all kids with "differences" can benefit from a good evaluation.

I know how hard it is to broach this subject. But these parents may also be worried and simply need some urging to see their pediatrician. And if they don't appreciate it, know that you're doing them, and their son, a big favor.