Autism spectrum disorder appears in infancy and early childhood, causing delays in many basic areas of development, such as learning to talk, play, and interact with others. It is also one of the most prevalent disorders today and it can be pretty difficult to tell if a child has autism as many children without autism have some of the behaviour.
The signs and symptoms of autism vary widely, as do its effects. Some children with autism have only mild impairments, while others have more obstacles to overcome. While most children with the condition do not get a diagnosis until about 4 years old, a lot of work has been on going in his field by experts leading to breakthrough methods for early detection. So, now from as early as 2 years, a child with autism can be diagnosed. Early detection and treatment helps a lot and can make all the difference for kids with autism.
Parents are usually in the best position to detect early signs as they know their children better than anyone and observe the behaviours of their children almost on a daily basis. Your child’s pediatrician sure can observe your child for signs but do not undermine the importance of your observations as a few minutes doctor’s visit might not do the trick as the doctor might not have the chance to observe for long.
Get yourself equipped with correct information so you know what’s normal and what’s not.
If you notice any of these signs or have concerns about your child’s development, speak to his doctor.
Signs of autism in babies younger than 12 months old
The earliest signs of autism involve the absence of normal behaviour or regression from normal behaviour. Some of the earliest signs are often misinterpreted as signs of a “good baby”, as the baby seems quiet, undemanding and generally gives parents or caregivers almost no trouble. This is the tricky part as some children showing some of the signs may not be autistic.
- Not making eye contact, such as not smiling when being smiled at, not looking at you when being fed.
- Not responding to his or her name or responding to a familiar voice. Doesn’t turn around to see where a sound is coming from, or doesn’t appear startled when he hears a loud noise.
- Not showing interest in typical baby games
- Not showing early signs of talking like or using other gestures to communicate.
- Not using gestures, like reaching for you when she wants to be held.
- Not interested in being cuddled or touched
Signs of autism in toddlers 12 to 24 months old
- Loses verbal or social skills. Like he used to babble or speak a few words, but suddenly stopped
- Abnormal posture, walking exclusively on tiptoe or not walking at all
- Does not point out objects or shake his head to indicate yes or no.
- Does not wave goodbye or points to things he wants
- Not started using two-word phrases by 24 months
Signs of autism in children 2 years old and up
- May sometimes come across as cold or rigid and seem attached to routines, not wanting anything to change. He may want to wear only clothes without tags or made of a certain material.
- Reacts unusually to things, like smells, textures, sounds. May be very sensitive to loud noises
- Likes to be left alone almost all the time. Can also be unresponsive to his or her name or may be unable to follow directions.
- Does not understand other people’s facial expressions, or tone of voice
- May struggle to express his or her needs, or have difficulty speaking
- Use facial expressions that doesn’t match what he or she is saying.
- Speaks in an abnormal tone of voice. Might speak haltingly, in a high-pitched voice or a flat tone. Might use single words instead of sentences or repeat a word or phrase over and over. Might repeat a question rather than answer it.
- Repeats the same words or phrases over and over
- Sometimes engaging in self injury like biting or hitting himself.
- Appears disinterested or unaware of other people around him or her.
- Plays with objects or toys in unusual ways. For example: He spends a lot of time lining things up or putting them in a certain order. He enjoys repetitively opening and closing a door. Or he becomes preoccupied with repeatedly pushing a button on a toy or spinning the wheels of a toy car.
- Avoids eye contact and makes very few gestures(such as pointing)
- Unusual attachments to toys or strange objects such as rubber bands, light switches and obsessively arranging things in a certain order.
- Spends a lot of time watching an object such as a ceiling fan.
- Exhibits behavior problems. May be resistant, uncooperative, or overly active. May be hyperactive, impulsive, or aggressive.
- May have trouble sleeping or waking up frequently through out the night
- Takes what is said too literally. Does not understand humor.
- May overreact to some types of pain and underreact to others. For example, she may cover her ears to block loud noises but not notice when she skins her knee.