What Are The Signs Of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Signs of ASD range from mild to severely disabling, and every person is different. The following signs are considered to be red flags that indicate your young child may be at risk for autism. If your child shows any of the following signs, please get in touch with your childs healthcare provider to discuss a referral for an autism evaluation.
The signs include the following:
- Your child doesnt respond to their name being called at all or responds inconsistently.
- Your child doesnt smile widely or make warm, joyful expressions by the age of 6 months.
- Your child doesnt engage in smiling, making sounds and making faces with you or other people by the age of 9 months.
- Your child doesnt babble by 12 months.
- No back-and-forth gestures such as showing, pointing, reaching or waving by 12 months.
- No words by 16 months.
- No meaningful, two-word phrases by 24 months.
- Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age.
Why Are Rates Higher Among Children
There are a number of reasons why the prevalence of autism is higher among school-aged children than adults, starting with the measurement.
Prevalence refers to the rate of diagnosis and/or self-reports, not the rate of actually having autism. As autism is a lifelong condition, its more likely the rates of actually having autism are stable across adults and children.
Diagnostic techniques and awareness of autism have improved dramatically in recent times. Many autistic adults would not have been given a formal diagnosis, but rather misdiagnosed or just seen as weird.
These days, there are clear benefits of having and reporting a diagnosis for school-aged children including access to funding and educational support. This means parents who suspect their child has autism may seek out a diagnosis when in previous generations they would not.
There are far fewer benefits to having and reporting a diagnosis for adults, and many more barriers, including stigma and discrimination.
Differences Between Mild And Severe Symptoms
Autism disorders fall along a spectrum of mild to severe. Some children with ASD have advanced learning and problem-solving skills, while others require daily living assistance.
According to the American Psychiatric Associations diagnostic criteria, there are three levels of autism that are defined by how much support a person requires.
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Can People Really Grow Out Of Autism
A boy with autism. For the Artistic Mother’s Group: Samuel Study.
Let’s start with the headlines blaring the news about a recent autism study. They almost invariably use the phrase “grow out of autism,” even though the study itself does not use that phrase or even reference “grow” except to talk about head circumference. Instead, the authors of the report, published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, use the term “optimal outcomes” to describe what they detected in a group of 34 people who were diagnosed as autistic when they were under age 5.
As the study authors themselves state, this idea that autistic people might show reduced deficits to the point of losing a diagnosis is not new. In fact, first author Deborah Fein and colleagues cite studies identifying frequencies of “optimal outcomes” as high as 37% among autistic people. The lingering open questions relate to whether or not the autistic people in these studies had received the correct diagnosis in the first place. The only “novelty” of these latest results appears to be confirmation that indeed, the 34 people they identified as having an “optimal outcome” did receive an accurate diagnosis of autism in childhood. In other words, they are confirmed to have had a developmental disorder, a neurobiological condition called autism — yet, they “grew out of it.”
What Is The Difference Between Autism And Autism Spectrum Disorder
The term autism was changed to autism spectrum disorder in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association. ASD is now an umbrella term that covers the following conditions:
- Autistic disorder.
- Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified .
- Asperger syndrome.
People with ASD have trouble with social interactions and with interpreting and using non-verbal and verbal communication in social contexts. Individuals with ASD may also have the following difficulties:
- Inflexible interests.
- Insistence on sameness in environment or routine.
- Repetitive motor and sensory behaviors, like flapping arms or rocking.
- Increased or decreased reactions to sensory stimuli.
How well someone with ASD can function in day-to-day life depends on the severity of their symptoms. Given that autism varies widely in severity and everyday impairment, the symptoms of some people arent always easily recognized.
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Educate Yourself About Autism
New resources for understanding and living with autism appear seemingly every day.
Talk to doctors, researchers, or speech pathologists with expertise in autism to learn:
- more about autism and how it works
- whats happening in a neurodivergent brain
- how you can advocate for your teen when others dont understand or accept who they are
Read plenty of books and visit online resources, too. Here are just a few:
Why So Many People With Autism Have Eating Disorders
Will the child still have autism? Yes, but its practically guaranteed that he or she will feel, focus, sleep, behave, and function better. And intriguingly, anecdotal evidence suggests this simple intervention may be powerful enough to prevent, arrest or in some cases even reverse the autism process if caught early enough pilot studies testing this intervention more formally are forthcoming.
When parents really grasp the science of what happens in the brain when children interact with screen devicesand understand how these things specifically impact autismthey are much better able to restrict screens appropriately and are less swayed by social pressures. They see how screen time translates into certain symptoms in their child, they prioritize brain-health over being tech-savvy, and appreciate that every minute spent on a screen is a tradeoff.
J Melke et al., Abnormal Melatonin Synthesis in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Mol Psychiatry 13, no. 1 : 9098.
Shigekazu Higuchi et al., Effects of Vdt Tasks with a Bright Display at Night on Melatonin, Core Temperature, Heart Rate, and Sleepiness, Journal of Applied Physiology 94, no. 5 : 177376.
Matthew S. Goodwin et al., Cardiovascular Arousal in Individuals with Autism, Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities 21, no. 2 : 100123 BA Corbett and D Simon, Adolescence, Stress and Cortisol in Autism Spectrum Disorders., OA Autism 1, no. 1 : 16.
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What Is The Outlook For People With Autism Spectrum Disorder
In many cases, the symptoms of ASD become less pronounced as a child gets older. Parents of children with ASD may need to be flexible and ready to adjust treatment as needed for their child.
People with ASD may go on to live typical lives, but there is often need for continued services and support as they age. The needs depend on the severity of the symptoms. For most, it’s a lifelong condition that may require ongoing supports.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Through research, there has been much that has been learned about autism spectrum disorder over the past 20 years. There is ongoing active research on the causes of ASD, early detection and diagnosis, prevention and treatments.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/29/2020.
Diagnosis Of Autism In Adults
It is not unusual for autistic people to have reached adulthood without a diagnosis.
Sometimes people will read some information or see something about autism that makes them think That sounds like me. They may then choose to talk to a health professional for a diagnosis, or they may not.
You may choose to seek an autism diagnosis if:
- you have been diagnosed with a mental health condition or intellectual disability during childhood or adolescence, but think that you may have autism
- you have struggled with feeling socially isolated and different
- your child or other family member has been diagnosed with autism and some of the characteristics of autism sound familiar to you.
If you wish to seek an assessment for autism, you can:
- talk to a psychologist with experience in the assessment and diagnosis of autism
- talk to your GP
- seek a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist with experience in the assessment and diagnosis of autism in adults from your GP.
A psychologist or psychiatrist with experience in the assessment and diagnosis of autism will ask you about your childhood, and experiences at school and as an adult. They may also do some psychological or psychiatric testing.
A speech pathologist may also be consulted to assess your social communication skills.
All of this information will be used to help make a diagnosis.
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Communicate With Your Team
Communicating with the doctor, therapist, teachers, and other healthcare providers can help make your daily tasks a lot easier.
For parents, this can mean asking for suggestions to continue practicing the skills your child is learning in therapy, which makes it easier for them to be more successful.
Can Some Kids Outgrow Autism
But what does that mean for those kids? The findings suggest that the vast majority continue to face challenges and need support, said lead researcher Dr. Lisa Shulman.
Her team found that of the 38 children who “lost” their autism diagnosis, most were found to have other conditions — including learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety disorders.
Why did the picture change for those children?
That’s the “million-dollar question,” said Shulman, a professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Health System in New York City.
One possibility is that the initial diagnosis was wrong. But it’s also possible some children responded to early therapy aimed at supporting their development.
Shulman suspects both scenarios are true.
On the other hand, early behavioral therapy can help children with autism build their social and language skills, and ease behavior issues. So young kids who respond may no longer meet the criteria for autism at a certain point.
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Early Autism May Not Last A Lifetime
A new study found that some children correctly diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders at an early age may lose symptoms as they grow older. Further research may help scientists understand this change and point the way to more effective interventions.
ASD includes several related brain disorders, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. People with ASD generally have trouble with social interactions and communication. ASD affects about 1 in every 88 children.
Optimal outcome a term used when symptoms are lost later in life has been documented in previous ASD studies. However, questions remained about whether the symptoms disappeared or the original diagnosis was wrong.
A research team led by Dr. Deborah Fein at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, sought to investigate whether optimal outcome could be seen in children whod had a confirmed ASD diagnosis before age 5. Optimal outcome participants had to be currently enrolled in regular education classrooms and have a documented report of their earlier diagnosis from a physician or psychologist specializing in autism. To confirm this assessment, the reports were edited to remove all information except the descriptions of behavior. They were then reviewed by an ASD diagnostic expert.
The optimal outcome group appeared to have somewhat milder social problems at an early age than the high-functioning ASD group. However, both had similar communication and repetitive behavior symptoms.
Children With Asds: Taller Heavier Than Typical Peersbut Only At Certain Ages
To compare children with ASDs and their unaffected siblings the IAN project used both height and Body Mass Index .
As a group, children with ASDs appear to be taller than their unaffected siblings. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism, specifically, appear taller than those with PDD-NOS who, in turn, do not differ from unaffected siblings in height.
Figure 1. Height Status: Children with ASDs and Unaffected Siblings — Nov. 21, 2007
For the purposes of this analysis, “very short” is defined as being equal to or below the 5th percentile for height, while “very tall” is equated with being above the 95th percentile.
In late October, about a week into data collection, we conducted an analysis which showed a much bigger difference in height between children with various ASD diagnoses than the current one does.
Figure 2. Height Status: Children with ASDs and Unaffected Siblings — Oct. 28, 2007
When we had only 328 children with Autism, 153 children with PDD-NOS, and 142 children with Asperger’s Syndrome to go on, the differences between the children with Asperger’s and those with PDD-NOS, for example, looked fairly large. As we collected information from more families about additional children, more than doubling our original numbers, these differences evened out to reflect a more accurate picture.
Table 1. Height: Affected vs. Unaffected Boys, Ages 3-6
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Group Homes Create Families
Barbara Fischkin also helped create a home for her son Dan. She first shared the story of his miracle group homefunded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and run by the Nassau County Chapter of AHRC, a nonprofit grouptwo years ago. Then, she described it as a newly renovated house on Long Islanda place I call the frat house. Actually, it is a beautiful and smartly designed home that could be a model for such endeavors nationwide. And the guys, who are in their 20s and 30s, are all at the age when leaving home and family and striking out on your owneven if you need lots of staff to helpis something one yearns to do.
Two years later, she reports that Dan, now 24, and his three housemates become more like a family all the time. The guys look out for one another. Dan is still not verbal and has an aide most of the time but is making great progress with independent typing.
What Early Signs Of Autism Should I Watch For In My Child
While the causes of autism remain mysterious, the early signs of autism don’t come out of nowhere. Most parents of autistic children recognize language delays at around 18 months of age. In fact, there are a few red flags that parents can look out for in their child much earlier than that. The American Academy of Pediatrics says some subtle, early signs of autism to look for before baby is 12 to 18 months old include:
- Your child doesn’t turn when you say his or her name by 12 months
- Your child doesn’t turn to look when you point and say, “Look at”
- Your child doesn’t point to show you interesting objects or events
- Your child doesn’t engage in back-and-forth baby babbling
- Delay in smiling and laughing
- Your child doesn’t make and keep eye contact with people
Other early signs of autism that warrant evaluation by your pediatrician include the following :
- No babbling, pointing or other gestures by 12 months
- No single words by 16 months
- No two-word spontaneous phrases by 24 months
- Loss of language or social skills at any age
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Can Autism Improve Or Worsen During Mid
Isnt it true, though, that autism will improve? weve all told the tale of someone that seems to have simply been totally mute, or of the girl who stopped obsessing about Sherlock Holmes the day before the final book came outWhat many people consider as instant achievement, is really the culmination of years of weeks, months, if not years, of hard work, taking a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to find.
Its Trial and error because some autistic people are successful, others arent. Once you have learned to control your symptoms, you feel absolutely worn out, not to mention all of your resources .-Dr. Adil MoulanchikkalDifficult traits occur in various manners as they are left in check. the child who discovered his voice will now concentrate on spending a lot of time speaking, while the girl who had given up will now dedicate herself to other interests, such as a profession or hobbies.
When I was a kid, my nervous breakdowns accompanied any instance of significant change now, however, they only take place when I am unable to communicate my feelings by natural means.
Study Limitations & Possible Conclusions
There are limitations to these studies that affect how we can interpret the results.
- Misdiagnosis: A possible reason for a change in an autism diagnosis is that a child was misdiagnosed in the first place. Many of the studies use a childs prior medical records to verify that the child has autism. The childs diagnosis is not verified through separate testing and assessment.Children can be diagnosed with autism as young as 18 months old, but many of the developmental delays that indicate autism can even out by age 2 or so. Because of this, an autism diagnosis is often not considered stable until at least age 2. Children who are diagnosed too early can be misdiagnosed.
- Higher innate cognitive abilities: Children in the autism studies who achieve the optimal outcome often begin with a higher level of cognitive abilities and higher IQs than what is considered standard. These children are potentially better equipped to learn how to manage autism and observe social cues to mask their autistic symptoms later in life. Many children have mild symptoms that go unnoticed until they start school. Social pressures become too overwhelming, and these mild symptoms may begin to show. These children didnt suddenly develop autism. They have merely been hiding their symptoms. They developed coping skills on their own that worked up until this point.
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