Updated: Apr 2, 2020
Catching autism early makes a huge difference. By recognizing the early signs and symptoms, you can get your child the help they need to learn, grow, and thrive.
What Is Autism?
Autism expresses itself through a spectrum of symptoms. 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.
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. However, every child on the autism spectrum has problems, at least to some degree, in the following areas:
* Communicating verbally and non-verbally
* Relating to others and the world around them
* Thinking and behaving flexibly
There are different opinions among doctors, parents, and experts about what causes autism and how best to treat it. There is one fact, however, that everyone agrees on: early and intensive intervention helps. For children at risk and children who show early signs, it can make all the difference. But no matter your child's age, don't lose hope. Treatment can reduce the disorders's effect and help your child thrive in life.
Sign and symptoms of autism in babies and toddlers
If autism is caught in infancy, treatment can take full advantage of the young brain's remarkable plasticity. Although autism is hard to diagnose before 24 month, symptoms often surface between 12 and 18 months. If signs are detected by 18 months of age, intensive treatment may help to rewire the brain and reverse the symptoms.
The earliest signs of autism involve the absence of typical behaviors, not the presence of atypical ones... so they can be tough to spot. In some case, the earliest symptoms of autism are even misinterpreted as signs of a "good baby", since the infant may seem quiet, independent, and undemanding. However, you can catch warning signs early if you know what to look for.
Some autistic infants don't respond to cuddling, reach out to be picked up, or look at their mothers when being fed.
Early signs: ( Your baby or toddler does not)
Make eye contact, such as looking at you when being fed or smiling when being smiled at
Respond to his or her name, or to the sound of a familiar voice
Follow objects visually or follow your gesture when you point things out
Point or wave goodbye, or use other gestures to communicate
Make noises to get your attention
Initiate or respond to cuddling or reach out to be picked up
Imitate your movements and facial expressions
Play with other people or share interest and enjoyment
Notice or care if you hurt yourself or experience discomfort
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Developmental Red Flags
The following delays warrant an immediate evaluation by your child's pediatrician:
By 6 months: No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions
By 9 months: No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions
By 12 months: Lack of response to name, No Babbling or " baby talk", No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving
By 16 months: No spoken words
By 24 months: No meaningful two-word phrases that don't involve imitating or repeating
Signs and symptoms in older children
As children get older, the red flags for autism become more diverse. There are many warning signs and symptoms, but they typically revolve around impaired social skills, speech and language difficulties, non-verbal communication difficulties, and inflexible behavior.
Signs of speech and language difficulties
Speaks in an atypical tone of voice, or with an odd rhythm or pitch (e.g. ends every sentence as if asking a question)
Repeats the same words or phrases over and over, often without communicative intent
Responds to a question by repeating it, rather than answering it
Uses language incorrectly ( grammatical errors, wrong words) or refers to him or herself in the third person
Has difficulty communicate needs or deisre
Doesn't understand simple directions, statements, or questions
Takes what is said too literally ( misses undertones of humor, irony, and sarcasm)
Children with autism spectrum disorder have difficulty with speech and language. Often, they start talking late. Children with autism spectrum disorder are often restricted, inflexible, and even obsessive in their behaviors, activities, and interests.
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Common restricted and repetitive behaviors:
Rocking back and forth
Spinning in a circle
Staring at lights
Moving fingers in front of the eyes
Lining up toys
Watching moving objects
Flickering light switches on and off
Repeating words or noises
If you suspect your child may be experiencing early signs or symptoms of autism or if you child may have speech or language difficulties as a result of autism, please contact our office for a free consultation or scheduled an appointment for an evaluation. 770.446.0911