Autism is an illness that can be treated very early on in childhood if it’s recognized in time. In fact, research has proven that early recognition, diagnosis and subsequent treatment of Autism in children can improve patient outcomes drastically.
As a parent or caregiver, it’s crucial that you become aware of the signs of Autism and watch out for any potential red flags that indicate your child may be suffering from ASD. However, the problem is that there are so many variations on the autism spectrum that no two Autism patients will look alike.
The symptoms are often very subtle and in a lot of cases, can be mixed up with other disorders if experienced in isolation.
The following signs may indicate that your child is on the Autism Disorder Spectrum. If your child displays any of these, please do not hesitate to arrange an evaluation with a medical practitioner.
Your Infant Is Unresponsive to Interaction Stimuli
Have you found that your toddler doesn’t respond when you speak to them? Or doesn’t like playing peekaboo? Maybe they don’t reciprocate when you babytalk with them or make any kind of eye contact?
Each of these on their own might not mean anything, but a collection of these symptoms or non-reactions before 12 months may be an early sign of an emotional developmental issue.
Researchers have found that infants who don’t express joy (smiles, laughing, gurgling) by 6 months might also be at risk for being on the Autism spectrum. Another important test is if they don’t respond to their name, but do respond to other noises like clapping or the TV.
One key element in determining if your child is on the spectrum is the emergence of speech issues, and these can manifest themselves at any age.
If your toddler isn’t babbling or baby talking by 12 months, it might be worth getting checked out.
Similarly, if your two year old isn’t forming two word sentences on their own (“want bear” or “kick ball,” for example) that may also be worth investigating.
Often, issues with speech can be confused with hearing related disorders rather than developmental ones, so they are worth checking out thoroughly. As a standard rule, any time your child shows a sustained reduction in the ability to verbalize or communicate, it’s something that needs to be addressed.
One subtle red flag with young kids is a lack of social skills. These can manifest in a number of different ways and usually when the child becomes a little older.
If your child doesn’t bring you items of interest, or call out about exciting things like a dog, truck, or other object – it is probably worth looking into further. Other signs include; mixing up personal pronouns, lacking empathy with other children, reacting inappropriately to emotional stimuli, inability to read the facial emotions of others and becoming obsessed with certain routines or complex actions in an unusual way.
Social issues are usually an excellent indicator of developmental issues and your kindergarten teacher may be able to bring these to your attention early – especially when the child is 4-5 years of age.
Catching It Early Is The Key
All of these symptoms in isolation may not necessarily mean anything – but the sooner you get your child seen to, the sooner you can begin managing any issues that they may have.
There’s an old saying that’s a key thing to remember when dealing with this disorder “when you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” If you’re still on the fence on whether your child is at risk, we do offer several tests and kits that can provide you with more information before you take the next step in contacting your family physician.