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Does My Child Have Autism?

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