What Are The Signs Of Autism
The autism diagnosis age and intensity of autisms early signs vary widely. Some infants show hints in their first months. In others, behaviors become obvious as late as age 2 or 3.
Not all children with autism show all the signs. Many children who dont have autism show a few. Thats why professional evaluation is crucial.
The following may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, ask your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation right away:
Learn Everything About Your Teen
Most parents do this anyway . But if your teen is autistic and youre not sure what to do, ask them!
Keep an open conversation going with your teen. Ask them to tell you what theyre thinking or write down their thoughts.
If your teen may not have the verbal or writing capacities to share their thoughts or emotions with you, its crucial to observe their behavior and take note of what might trigger certain behavioral responses.
Find what does work to help minimize behaviors that may be disruptive or challenge their ability to get the most out of the resources they have access to.
If you believe their behavior is disruptive or hindering their ability to succeed in ways that theyve expressed interest, try to minimize those triggers or help your teen find coping mechanisms.
Here are some ideas:
- Bright lights a trigger? Keep the lights dim in your home.
- Loud noises disrupt their focus or overstimulate their senses? Buy them some noise-canceling headphones or earplugs.
- Is your teen feeling intense emotion? Give them space, and be understanding. Dont yell, make them feel ashamed, or respond with hurtful language or violence.
Screening For Autism In Children
A timely diagnosis and intervention can benefit children on the autism spectrum and with other developmental disorders. Timely diagnosis is a necessary first step for identifying and beginning appropriate therapies and supports.
When assessing a child for autism spectrum disorder, a health professional or team of professionals will determine a child’s level of risk. They will use standardized questionnaires or tools as well as their clinical judgment.
Some more familiar screening tools in Canada include the:
- Infant Toddler Checklist
- Autism Observation Scale for Infants
- Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule Toddler Module
- Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers: Revised with Follow-Up
The first signs of autism spectrum disorder are usually present in very early childhood. Parents are often the first to note concerns about their child’s development. Autism can be detected through screening in children as young as 12 months old.
Children on the autism spectrum may show signs across many areas of development. Not all signs are necessary for a child to receive a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.
Autism develops differently for each person. The term spectrum is used because symptoms can occur in combination or in degrees of intensity. Symptoms can also vary widely from person to person and across the lifespan.
Adapted from: Canadian Pediatric Society
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Child Growth Varies As An Asd Poses At Multiple Stages
Child development is dependent on various factors, such as genetics, personal background, climate, and stage of life.
In different fields, children with ASD grow at different rates. They can experience delays in language, social skills, and learning, though they are almost identical to other children of their age. It would be quite good to combine puzzles or solve computer issues, but social activities, such as talking or making friends, make it difficult. Children with ASD will also learn a tough skill before learning a simple skill. For instance, a child can read long words, but cannot tell you what a b sounds like.
Children grow at their own pace so when a child learning a specific skill can be hard to say exactly. However, in the first few years of life, there are age-specific thresholds used to assess the social and emotional development of a child.
Autism, by definition, can only be diagnosed if symptoms appear before age three.
In consequence autism in children, sometimes as young as 3 years or even younger, is diagnosed. Yes, it is possible to diagnose autism in adolescents or adults, but the mean age of diagnosis is from 3 to 6 years.
Why The Delay For Diagnosing Girls With Autism
The delay of diagnosing girls usually happens for many reasons. One thought is that their symptoms may not be as severe and they may have the ability to mask their symptoms.
Also, in one autism study of boys and girls, the results were that girls had a harder time with social cognition and interpreting social cues. Whereas boys had more repetitive behaviors like hand flapping and an extreme narrow scope of interests.
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Is An Early Diagnosis More Likely To Be Incorrect
Multiple studies have confirmed that autism can be reliably diagnosed by age two with little risk of that diagnosis being invalidated later. Though early diagnoses may require a more definite diagnosis as the child grows older.
A 2006 study found that if children with autism were diagnosed at age two, that diagnosis was very likely to remain consistent by age nine.
However, the study noted that diagnostic stability was less reliable for children whose autism involved less severe presentations, meeting the older definition of PDD-NOS. This conclusion means that children with more typical presentations or who did not outwardly display multiple diagnostic criteria were more likely to affect how soon a child would be diagnosed with autism or have a missed diagnosis.
While medical knowledge has improved in the 14 years since that study was published, it is still possible for a child to delay presentation of ASD until age five or later.
One major factor that can prevent a missed diagnosis is input from parents. Because parents can observe some of the subtler signs or pervasive patterns that a single diagnostic test might miss, clinicians can perform a more thorough diagnosis or re-evaluate as the child ages.
Signs Of Asperger Syndrome
People with Asperger syndrome are generally considered to be on the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum. It is still a form of autism and is a lifelong condition.
Signs and symptoms that are typical of people with Asperger syndrome include:
- Very narrow and highly focused interests
- Great importance on rules and routines
- High standard of language skills, potentially very formal in expression
- Monotonous or repetitive speech
- Making the same noise repeatedly
These behaviors provide the person with a form of sensory input that the person finds appealing or helpful. There are various reasons why someone could be engaging in self-stimulatory behavior:
- They find it enjoyable
- It provides something to focus on, thereby reducing the effects of other, nearby stimuli
- It is soothing and helps with anxiety
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What To Do If Youre Worried
If your child is developmentally delayed, or if youve observed other red flags for autism, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician right away. In fact, its a good idea to have your child screened by a doctor even if he or she is hitting the developmental milestones on schedule. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children receive routine developmental screenings, as well as specific screenings for autism at 9, 18, and 30 months of age.
Schedule an autism screening. A number of specialized screening tools have been developed to identify children at risk for autism. Most of these screening tools are quick and straightforward, consisting of yes-or-no questions or a checklist of symptoms. Your pediatrician should also get your feedback regarding your childs behavior.
See a developmental specialist. If your pediatrician detects possible signs of autism during the screening, your child should be referred to a specialist for a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation. Screening tools cant be used to make a diagnosis, which is why further assessment is needed. A specialist can conduct a number of tests to determine whether or not your child has autism. Although many clinicians will not diagnose a child with autism before 30 months of age, they will be able to use screening techniques to determine when a cluster of symptoms associated with autism is present.
Signs Of Nonverbal Communication Difficulties
- Avoids eye contact.
- Uses facial expressions that dont match what they are saying
- Doesnt pick up on other peoples facial expressions, tone of voice, and gestures.
- Makes very few gestures . May come across as cold or robot-like.
- Reacts unusually to sights, smells, textures, and sounds. May be especially sensitive to loud noises. Can also be unresponsive to people entering/leaving, as well as efforts by others to attract the childs attention.
- Atypical posture, clumsiness, or eccentric ways of moving .
Children with autism spectrum disorder have trouble picking up on subtle nonverbal cues and using body language. This makes the give-and-take of social interaction very difficult.
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Some Children Dont Show Signs Until After Age 5
Studies show that some children exhibit few or no signs of autism as toddlers. Without apparent signs by 24 months, the typical age for autism screening, your childs condition may not be diagnosed until later. Also, people tend to think that if you werent diagnosed as a child, your autism symptoms are probably due to another health issue.
Signs Of Autism In Babies And Toddlers
We recommend that all parents familiarize themselves with the CDCs Learn the Signs. Act Early. program, which was recently updated to reflect new research around social, emotional, cognitive, and physical milestones. Parents of babies and toddlers who are not meeting the listed milestones by the ages they are associated with are encouraged to let their childs pediatrician know so that they can work together on a plan.
Some of the early delays that are most associated with a later diagnosis of autism include:
- Failure to make eye contact
- Strong negative reactions to changes in routine or environment
- Limited communication related to age and peers
- Lack of interest in social interactions with caregivers
If you are a parent whose child is exhibiting one or more of the early signs of autism, speak with your pediatrician for additional guidance on what you can do. Early screenings and interventions can be incredibly valuable for children with ASD, but before a certain age you may just be advised to continue paying close attention.
In need of additional support? Our team at Autism Specialty Group is committed to providing caregivers with the tools that they need to take action after an autism diagnosis. Learn more about us, and visit our services page for information on what we do. We also invite you to contact us with any direct questions or to set up a consultation.
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Concerned About Your Childs Development: What To Do
If youre concerned about your childs development, talk to your child and family health nurse or GP about a developmental assessment. Getting an assessment and diagnosis is the first step to helping your child and getting services and programs suited to your childs needs.
Its important to get help and support as soon as possible. Early therapies and supports are the best way to help autistic children develop and thrive. Thats because they can help autistic children learn the skills they need for everyday activities. Sometimes children who get early intervention need less or no support as they get older.
What Should You Do If You Think Your Teenager Is Autistic
Autism isnt curable. Its a part of your teens personality and selfhood.
Help your teen understand who they are and learn to love and accept themselves, especially if theyre worried about not fitting in.
- monitoring your teens development against a checklist of common developmental milestones
- performing an in-depth behavioral evaluation
- figuring out what resources may allow your teen to overcome challenges in adapting to neurotypical norms and becoming self-sufficient
Just like the signs of autism differ for everyone, the outcomes for autistic people will look different for each individual.
The first thing to understand is that your teen isnt impaired or deficient.
But they may need access to resources that can help them overcome challenges in adapting to neurotypical norms, depending on whether their ASD has been diagnosed as mild or severe.
Heres what you can do to make your teen feel loved and accepted by you and those around you, as well as how to help them love and accept themselves.
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Does Autism Show Early
Does autism show early? is a common question that parents have for pediatricians. Tracking developmental milestonesparticularly those related to social and emotional developmentis an important part of monitoring a childs health in the first few years of life. And while many parents are quick to assume that something major is going on if things dont appear to be on track, its helpful to be aware of when autism can really start to show up, as well as what it looks like.
Autism can show early, but the earliest age for autism diagnosis reliability is not until a child is two years old. Its essential to keep in mind that the accuracy of evaluations based on the early signs of ASD can be hit or miss, and before age two it is possible that children who present with these signs may go on to be neurotypical.
Notably, while a reliable autism diagnosis cannot be made before 24 months, it is more likely than not that a child who is exhibiting signs of autism after 12 months of age will go on to be diagnosed with ASD. In one recent study that looked at developmental evaluations of 1,200 toddlers between ages 12 and 36 months, less than 2% of the children presumed to have autism were later found not to have the disorder. That being said, 24% of the children in the study who were considered neurotypical in early evaluations did in fact go on to get an ASD diagnosis.
How To Begin A Diagnosis Process
Adults who suspect they or a loved one might be autistic can do a self-assessment test for adults. A person can find these tests online. While they cannot give a diagnosis, the tests are a good starting point.
A person seeking a diagnosis can take the results of such a test to a primary care doctor who will try to determine whether ASD may be present by:
- enquiring about the symptoms, both current and during childhood
- observing and interacting with the person
- speaking to a loved one
- checking for other physical or mental health conditions that may be causing symptoms
If no underlying physical condition can explain the symptoms, the doctor may refer the person to a psychiatrist or a psychologist to make an ASD diagnosis.
If symptoms are not present in childhood but begin in adolescence or adulthood, this may indicate a cognitive or mental health condition other than ASD.
It may be difficult to find a specialist who can diagnose ASD in adults. Individuals who would like a diagnosis for themselves or a loved one may need to do research to find a provider with experience diagnosing autistic adults.
Another option is to speak to a developmental pediatrician or child psychiatrist who is willing to see adult clients.
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Autism May Be Diagnosed By Age Two
New study suggests that early screening may benefit some children
Clinicians can reliably diagnose autism in some toddlers roughly two years earlier than the typical age of diagnosis, a new study suggests.
The researchers assessed more than 1,200 toddlers for autism at least twice using standard diagnostic tools. They diagnosed roughly one in three with the condition by age 2 84 percent of these toddlers retained the label at their last visit, which was at age 3 on average.
The finding suggests clinicians should take autism traits in toddlers seriously, says co-lead researcher Karen Pierce, professor of neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego.
If children meet criteria and they do show signs and symptoms, dont wait lets get them the help and the treatment that they need, Pierce says.
Experts are divided on whether autism can reliably be diagnosed before age 3. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screening for autism starting at 18 months. However, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Forcea government panel that makes recommendations about preventive medicinehas said there is insufficient evidence to recommend universal screening before 3.
The study shows that well-trained, expert teams evaluating young kids with autism are able to pick up concerns at fairly young ages for some kids, says Warren, who was not involved in the work. Its an interesting and creative approach to understanding screening and diagnosis.
How To Test A Child For Autism
You may ask your childs healthcare provider to periodically check your child for signs of autism with a developmental screening test. A screening test alone will not result in a diagnosis but can indicate if your child should see a specialist. A developmental pediatrician, child psychologist or psychiatrist, pediatric neurologist, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, or other specialist can conduct a formal developmental evaluation.
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Prenatal Factors That May Contribute To Autism
Taking antidepressants during pregnancy, especially in the first 3 months.
Nutritional deficiencies early in pregnancy, particularly not getting enough folic acid.
The age of the mother and father.
Complications at or shortly after birth, including very low birth weight and neonatal anemia
Maternal infections during pregnancy.
Exposure to chemical pollutants, such as metals and pesticides, while pregnant.
More research on these prenatal risk factors is needed, but if youre pregnant or trying to conceive, it cant hurt to take steps now to reduce your babys risk of autism.
Reducing the risk of autism: Tips for expectant mothers
Take a multivitamin. Taking 400 micrograms of folic acid daily helps prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. Its not clear whether this will also help reduce risk of autism, but taking the vitamins cant hurt.
Ask about SSRIs. Women who are taking an SSRI should talk with a clinician about all the risks and benefits of these drugs. Untreated depression in a mother can also affect her childs well-being later on, so this is not a simple decision to make.
Practice prenatal care. Eating nutritious food, trying to avoid infections, and seeing a clinician for regular check-ups can increase the chances of giving birth to a healthy child.
Source: Harvard Health Publications