Autism is a spectrum of closely related disorders with a shared core 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 three 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.
The Centers for Disease Control lists the following “Possible Red Flags” for Autism Spectrum Disorder on their website (www.cdc.gov). Please keep in mind that these are just things to watch for.
Possible Signs of Autism
- Does not respond to their name by 12 months of age
- Does not point at objects to show interest (point at a bird flying over) by 14 months.
- Does not play “pretend” games (pretend to “feed” a doll) by 18 months
- Avoids eye contact and mostly prefers to be alone
- Has trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
- Has delayed speech and language skills
- Repeats words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
- Gives unrelated answers to questions
- Gets upset by minor changes
- Has obsessive interests
- Flaps their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
- Has unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
Identifying autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) at the earliest age possible is of the utmost importance because early treatment can be very beneficial to the child and his/her family.
if you find that the list above describes your child in part, then you might want to consider looking into having your child evaluated. If you suspect that something might be wrong, talk to your developmental pediatrician about having your child evaluated. However, if you incorrectly ignore your parental instincts with the expectation that he or she will “grow out of it, critical early treatment years could be lost.