Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social impairments, cognitive impairments, communication difficulties, and repetitive behaviors. It is often diagnosed when it becomes clear that a child’s social behaviour and language aren’t developing in a typical way.
Because Autism is a spectrum disorder, it can range from very mild to very severe and it may occur in all ethnic, socioeconomic and age groups. Males are four times more likely to have autism than females. Some children with autism appear normal before age 1 or 2 and then suddenly “regress” and lose language or social skills they had previously gained.
Here are the early autism signs and symptoms, that parents should be aware of:
- Not respond to their name (the child may appear deaf)
- Not point at objects or things of interest, or demonstrate interest
- Not play “pretend” games
- Avoid eye contact
- Want to be alone
- Have difficulty understanding, or showing understanding, or other people’s feelings or their own
- Have no speech or delayed speech
- Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
- Give unrelated answers to questions
- Get upset by minor changes
- Have obsessive interests
- Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
- Have unusual reactions (over or under-sensitivity) to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
- Have low to no social skills
- Avoid or resist physical contact
- Demonstrate little safety or danger awareness
- Reverse pronouns (e.g., says “you” instead of “I”)
- Gives unrelated answers to questions
- Have unusual interests and behaviors
- Have extreme anxiety and phobias, as well as unusual phobias
- Line up toys or other objects
- Play with toys the same way every time
- Like parts of objects (e.g., wheels)
- Become upset by minor changes
What to do next once you’ve notice the mentioned autism signs and symptoms to your child?
If you’re concerned about your child’s development, or already have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis, the important thing is to get help and support as soon as possible. The sooner you’ll get early childhood intervention services, the more effective these services can be in fostering positive outcomes.