Can A Child Be Slightly Autistic
A child could have mild symptoms of autism, but parents and guardians should still take proactive steps to seek a diagnosis.
When a child has autism spectrum disorder , caregivers can work with professionals to develop appropriate strategies in response. These strategies help children thrive in their environment through appropriate accommodations, therapy, and parent training.
While some children with autism may rarely encounter challenges related to their disorder, others may find that negative experiences increase as they get older. This can lead to unwanted stress, potentially up to the point of a crisis event. In extreme cases, a child could lose opportunities to advance in school or other life areas.
Understanding a childs needs is important. Individuals in their life should never brush away observations that a child might have a behavior disorder. Instead, they can educate themselves on the signs of ASD and look into the next best actions to take.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Children with ASD often have problems with:
- body language and eye contact
- social interactions
In toddlers, parents might notice:
- delayed speech
- using only a few gestures
- not responding when someone calls their name
- avoiding eye contact
- not sharing enjoyment or interests with others
- unusual ways of moving the hands, fingers, or whole body
- being very focused or attached to unusual objects
- little to no imitating of others or pretending
- unusual sensory interests
- rituals such as repeating things over and over or lining up objects
Milder symptoms may not be recognized until a child is older and has problems with:
- forming friendships
- knowing how to act in different social situations
- unusual, intense interests in specific topics or activities
No two people with ASD have the same signs and symptoms. Many things can play a role, such as language delays, thinking and learning problems, and behavioral challenges. For this reason, autism is described as a “spectrum.”
Speech And Language Difficulties May Present Themselves During Early Stages Of Language Development
Children with ASD may have a hard time speaking and communicating at the expected level for their age.
Even during infancy, you might notice that your child does not babble or coo in response when you talk and attempt to interact. By their first birthday, most toddlers can speak a word or two, but children on the spectrum often dont learn to speak until much later.
Sometimes, children with ASD babble and coo in the first few months of life, and then cease to communicate altogether. In these cases, all forms of verbal communication and normal language development and experimentation with speech abruptly stop. This can be disconcerting for parents and is often a sign that its time to investigate further by seeking professional help.
Even in cases where autistic children do speak and demonstrate pretty typical signs of normal language development, they often repeat unrelated words and phrases over and over and, in essence, speak without really communicating or conveying a feeling, thought or desire.
Early intervention is key to helping autistic children learn to communicate, whether it is through spoken language, or in more extreme cases, through sign language or even an alternative augmentative communication device.
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Language Communication And Autism
Many autistic children develop language skills at a different rate and in a different order from typically developing children. This means they might not understand what you say to them or might have difficulty following instructions. Some autistic children can find it difficult to use spoken language to ask for things, or tell other people what theyre thinking or feeling.
Differences in communication can make social situations like playing with other children a little more difficult.
May Have No Interest In Interacting With The World Around Them
For the neurotypical child, the world is full of bizarre and wonderful things that they have never seen or encountered before things that naturally pique their curiosity and draw them in. The normal response to a new experience or discovery is typically wide-eyed wonderment, dismay, amusement and inquisitiveness.
Children with ASD respond to the world very differently. You might notice that your child doesnt really respond with eye contact or normal outward signs of curiosity when you try to get their attention. Perhaps they dont even turn their head in your direction when you say their name. They might not point at objects, show a normal level of curiosity, or attempt to engage you by showing you their toys and drawings in an effort to share their interests and elicit a positive response.
A lack of responsiveness to stimuli and a lack of interest in trying to seek parental attention is a pretty common sign that a child may fall somewhere on the spectrum.
Children typically learn through imitation. Even at an early age, the neurotypical child will begin copying adult behaviorsyou might catch them pretending to cook, holding an object up to their ear as if they are talking on the phone, or pretending to feed and care for a doll.
Children on the spectrum may also have adverse reactions to normal physical contact, such as a hug, holding hands, or being picked up off the floor and held.
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Working With A Job Coach
Nat works three days a week, sharing a job coach with two other young men. This coach, paid for by a state allocation, looks out for Nat at his job at CVS stocking coolers, making sure he understands what he is expected to do and stays on task. Hes also about to start a trial run at a second job retrieving shopping carts at a grocery store. Currently Nat spends the other two days in DayHab, short for Day Habilitation Services, meant to help people with developmental disabilities improve or maintain their independent living skills.
DayHab is often babysitting, Senator says, table top activities, coloring, television or sheltered workshops, with very little out in the community, and theres a mixture of disabilities. This isnt true of Nats program, she says all of his colleagues, as Senator terms them, are developmentally or intellectually delayed, possibly due to autism or Down syndrome.
Half of Nats funding comes from the state, half from Medicaid. After hes given a budget for rent, living expenses, transportation and his job coach, the family works with Nats service provider to come up with ways to stretch the money, Senator says. The family pays for extras like a recent three-day outing with a social group to New Hampshire.
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Diagnosing High Functioning Asd In Children Teens And Adults
Aspergers syndrome often remains undiagnosed until a parent places their child in a social setting. At that point, the child will visibly struggle to build relationships with the other children. The child may withdraw from the situation or appear awkward in their interactions.
Children and teens with Aspergers syndrome often exhibit exceptional language skills. However, they tend to misuse their extensive vocabulary in basic conversation. Someone with Aspergers may repetitively quote facts about an area of interest or try to force conversation without seeing things from the other persons perspective.
People often confuse and misdiagnose Aspergers syndrome as other behavioral issues, such as attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder . In fact, many children with Aspergers syndrome first receive an ADHD diagnosis. Soon, it becomes clear that the childs behavior stems from an inability to socialize rather than from an inability to focus.
Teens and adults who suffer from Aspergers syndrome may not be able to control or manage their emotions. They may laugh or cry at inappropriate times. They may also not realize when they are speaking loudly. Some individuals with Aspergers syndrome have a monotone voice or speak with unusual intonations.
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Other Signs Of Autism In 4
These signs are usually accompanied by some of the other signs listed above:
ASD encompasses a broad range of signs and symptoms. An autistic child may need minimal support in some aspects of their life and more significant support in other aspects.
An autistic child who needs minimal support may have:
- little interest in social interactions or social activities
- difficulty initiating social interactions or maintaining conversations
- trouble with appropriate communication
- trouble adapting to changes in routine or behavior
- difficulty making friends
An autistic child who needs a moderate amount of support, or who needs daily support, may have:
- difficulty coping with a change to their routine or surroundings
- a significant lack of verbal and nonverbal communication skills
- severe and obvious behavioral challenges
- repetitive behaviors that interfere with their daily life
- an unusual or a reduced ability to communicate or interact with others
- narrow, specific interests
An autistic child who needs significant support on a daily basis may:
Types Of Support To Help People With Asd
ASD is a lifelong disorder. You cannot change the fact that a person has ASD. But support can significantly improve the ability of that person to be successful in all areas of their life. This support is referred to as intervention.
Intensive intervention and therapy can help a person
- learn new skills
- change some behaviours that interfere with their functioning.
Intervening as early as possible helps most people, so diagnosis in young children is important.
There are many programs and supports available for people diagnosed with ASD. Interventions for ASD can include:
- occupational therapy
- training for parents, families and caregivers
- behavioural therapy, like applied behaviour analysis
- education and school planning in the form of an individual education plan
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Signs Of Speech And Language Difficulties
- Speaks in an atypical tone of voice, or with an odd rhythm or pitch .
- Repeats the same words or phrases over and over, often without communicative intent.
- Responds to a question by repeating it, rather than answering it.
- Uses language incorrectly or refers to him or herself in the third person.
- Has difficulty communicating needs or desires.
- Doesnt understand simple directions, statements, or questions.
- Takes what is said too literally .
Children with autism spectrum disorder have difficulty with speech and language. Often, they start talking late.
What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder refers to a group of complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behavior and difficulties with social communication and interaction. The symptoms are present from early childhood and affect daily functioning.
The term spectrum refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability in functioning that can occur in people with ASD. Some children and adults with ASD are fully able to perform all activities of daily living while others require substantial support to perform basic activities. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders includes Asperger syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorders not otherwise specified as part of ASD rather than as separate disorders. A diagnosis of ASD includes an assessment of intellectual disability and language impairment.
ASD occurs in every racial and ethnic group, and across all socioeconomic levels. However, boys are significantly more likely to develop ASD than girls. The latest analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 68 children has ASD.
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Can You Outgrow Autism And 5 Other Facts Parents Need To Know
April is National Autism Awareness month, but as scientists discover more about Autism Spectrum Disorder every day, Autism makes the news on a weekly basis all year round. There is still so much we dont know, but also a lot that we are starting to understand about this condition that impacts between 1 in 40 children in the United States, according to the AAP.
Some Children Do Outgrow Autism But Its Not What You Think
In the largest national study of children with autism to date, researchers examined one of the most mysterious aspects of autism spectrum disorder: that it sometimes simply vanishes.
An estimated 1 in 68 children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in the U.S., but researchers are beginning to take note of a small minority of children with ASD who seem to grow out of their diagnoses.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed more than 1,400 children with ASD the largest nationally representative sample of children with autism to date and found that about 13 percent of them seemed to shed their ASD-associated behaviors as they grew up.
The catch: that doesnt mean theyve stumbled upon some kind of miracle therapy or cure. Rather, as some previous researchers theorized, most of them were simply misdiagnosed or intentionally diagnosed with ASD for other reasons.
The present study confirms that ASD diagnoses can and sometimes do change as children mature and overcome delays, and as new information is assimilated by their healthcare providers, said Stephen Blumberg, lead author and an associate director for science at the CDCs National Center for Health Statistics.
Based on parent feedback, the diagnosis most often disappears in:
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How Is Asd Diagnosed
ASD symptoms can vary greatly from person to person depending on the severity of the disorder. Symptoms may even go unrecognized for young children who have mild ASD or less debilitating handicaps.
Autism spectrum disorder is diagnosed by clinicians based on symptoms, signs, and testing according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V, a guide created by the American Psychiatric Association used to diagnose mental disorders. Children should be screened for developmental delays during periodic checkups and specifically for autism at 18- and 24-month well-child visits.
Very early indicators that require evaluation by an expert include:
- no babbling or pointing by age 1
- no single words by age 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
- no response to name
- excessive lining up of toys or objects
- no smiling or social responsiveness
Later indicators include:
- impaired ability to make friends with peers
- impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
- absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
- repetitive or unusual use of language
- abnormally intense or focused interest
- preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
- inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals
Autistic Children And Developmental Milestones
Steven Gans, MD, is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
A developmental milestone is a sign of typical child development. Children reach dozens of developmental milestones between birth and adulthood. Early milestones include social smiles, rolling over, and sitting up. Later milestones involve the acquisition of language, social, physical, and emotional skills, and intellectual abilities.
Children with autism tend not to reach all of their developmental milestones at the appropriate times. But that statement is a huge oversimplification of the reality because:
- Many autistic children reach early developmental milestones on time or early, but then lose ground.
- Most autistic children reach some of their developmental milestones on time or early, but reach others late or not at all.
- Some autistic children reach some of their developmental milestones extraordinarily early but reach others extraordinarily late.
- Children with autism can appear to gain important skillsbut in fact, be unable to use those skills in real-world situations.
- Many children with autism have so-called “splinter” skills, which can be very advanced but which are not useful in daily life.
- Autistic children, particularly girls who are high-functioning, are sometimes able to hide or overcome some developmental delays.
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What Is Executive Functioning
“If you think of your brain as an orchestra, executive functioning is the conductor, making sure all the parts are working together and working properly,” explained neuropsychologist Michael Rosenthal of the Child Mind Institute. Dr. Rosenthal is an author of a new study on executive function problems in teens with ASD and intelligence quotient scores of 70 or above.
People use executive skills when they make plans, keep track of time, remember past experiences and relate them to the present, change course if they hit a roadblock, ask for help, maintain self-control and work successfully in a group.11
Something as mundane as food shopping requires multiple executive skills, Dr. Rosenthal said.
“First you need ‘initiation’ skills to get yourself off the couch. The next step is to ‘plan and organize’ a list of the items you need to get. You need to think about how many meals you need to make and how much money you have in the bank. Let’s imagine the first thing on your list is pears, but when you go to the produce section, the pears are all bruised. You have to have the ‘cognitive flexibility’ to say, ‘Instead of pears, I will buy apples.’ You need ‘inhibition’ to keep from going to the candy aisle, and your ‘working memory’ will help you keep track of the items you’ve purchased,” he said.
Autism Symptoms In An 8
Surrounded by cheerful, talkative 8-year-olds, an autistic child might be non-communicative and uncomfortable with the noise and activity. Approximately 1 in 59 children in the United States have autism spectrum disorder , according to 2014 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 124.
ASD is a group of conditions with similar symptoms — it includes autism and related disorders like Asperger syndrome. Boys are about 4 times more likely to develop ASD than girls.
Eight-year-olds with autism may exhibit a wide variety of symptoms related to social interactions, emotional reactions, communication skills and physical functions. The type and severity of symptoms will vary from person to person. Contact your child’s doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.
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