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.
How To Help Your Child After An Autism Diagnosis
There are many things you can do to help a child with autism spectrum disorder. Start by ensuring their treatment plan is tailored according to their individual needs and work closely with the therapists, teachers and doctors involved to make sure you are following through with the therapy at home and school. It is also important to provide children with autism with a sense of structure in their lives. Create a detailed routine for your child and stick with it. You can also create consistency at home by reinforcing things the child may have learned in other settings and using positive reinforcement to reward good behavior.
Autism Symptoms Vary In Severity And Expression
Most parents find out about their childs disorder in a similar fashion. However, it can be difficult for many new parents to identify autism symptoms because those symptoms can vary considerably and even overlap with other disorders or even with unusual behaviors that are nonetheless found even in neurotypical children.
All autism symptoms find root in one of three different categories:
- Social skills
- Behavioral patterns
No single category or symptom necessarily means that a child has autism. However, a combination of these at least means that it is time to get a professional opinion.
Communication Difficulties Can Be Difficult to Spot
Because all children develop at different rates, communication-related symptoms can be some of the hardest for parents to spot. A general delay in the development of speech and language skills can simply be put down to normal variation. But other communication problems are easier to spot:
- Consistently flat or musical voice.
- Consistent repetition of certain words of phrases.
- Problems with pronoun use .
- Unable to pick up common gestures.
In older children, communication issues can also be signaled by the inability to carry on a conversational thread and being unable to recognize jokes or sarcasm.
Social Difficulties Show Up in Common Interactions
Strange Behavioral Patterns Are Often The Biggest Clue
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Common Signs Of Asd In Preschoolers
With some children, the signs of autism might not become entirely obvious until they reach preschool , when suddenly the developmental gap between them and their peers becomes more pronounced.In addition to the signs for babies/toddlers, here are some of the more common ways ASD might present itself in a preschool-aged child.
Social communication red flags
- The child generally does not point to or share observations or experiences with others
- The child tends not to look directly at other people in a social way. This is sometimes referred to as a lack of eye contact
- There may be an absence of speech, or unusual speech patterns such as repeating words and phrases , failure to use âIâ, âmeâ, and âyouâ, or reversal of these pronouns
- Unusual responses to other people. A child may show no desire to be cuddled, have a strong preference for familiar people and may appear to treat people as objects rather than a source of comfort
- The child may appear to avoid social situations, preferring to be alone
- There is limited development of play activities, particularly imaginative play
- There may be constant crying or there may be an unusual absence of crying
Behavioural red flags
âShe was so distant from us we found it hard to engage her. We would have to say her name at least six times before she would acknowledge us, often staring into space as if in a trance. We put this down to a hearing problem but test results showed otherwise.â
Signs And Symptoms Of Autism In Babies And Toddlers
If autism is caught in infancy, treatment can take full advantage of the young brains remarkable plasticity. Although autism is hard to diagnose before 24 months, symptoms often surface between 12 and 18 months. If signs are detected by 18 months of age, intensive treatment may help to rewire the brain and reverse the symptoms.
The earliest signs of autism involve the absence of typical behaviorsnot the presence of atypical onesso they can be tough to spot. In some cases, the earliest symptoms of autism are even misinterpreted as signs of a good baby, since the infant may seem quiet, independent, and undemanding. However, you can catch warning signs early if you know what to look for.
Some autistic infants dont respond to cuddling, reach out to be picked up, or look at their mothers when being fed.
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Whats The Outlook For Autistic Children
Autism is a spectrum of neurological differences that develop during childhood.
Although there is not a cure for autism, many in the autism community believe these neurological differences dont need to be cured. Theyre just a different way of communicating and interacting with the world.
Decades of research have shown that early intervention can have a powerful effect on health outcomes for autistic children. When therapies begin in early childhood, autistic children benefit from the incredible adaptability of their growing brain and nervous system.
Some signs of autism can appear during infancy, such as:
- limited eye contact
Unresponsive To His Or Her Name
By 12 months of age, most children will look up or respond when someone calls them by name. If a child does not, that may be indicative of autism, the CDC says. These kids may also seem not to hear their parents or other people, or they may struggle to understand or follow simple commands or instructions.
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Confronting Misgivings About Revealing Your Child’s Diagnosis
Before you talk to your child about his diagnosis, it’s imperative that you work through your own fears and misgivings if you seem anxious or upset when you discuss autism with your child, he’s likely to pick up on your emotions and frame the information negatively in his own mind.
Parents frequently fear that their child will not be able to understand his diagnosis . They also worry that their child will shy away from opportunities he would otherwise embrace after learning about his condition, or that he might start to use his condition as an excuse to avoid doing things that are challenging for him, but ultimately necessary.
While it’s true that one or more of these issues may arise at some point, with patient and compassionate parenting, they can invariably be resolved. Likewise, it’s important to remember that most children – autistic and neurotypical alike – will bump into similar hurdles during their developmental years. What child has not worried that he is different from time to time, or limited himself in some way, or tried to find excuses to avoid difficult situations? Informing your child of his diagnosis and educating him about what it means will not make him more prone to encountering these natural stumbling blocks on the contrary, giving him the information he needs to find solutions that work with his unique way of thinking, feeling, and perceiving, will make him more willing and able to move past them.
Where To Test Your Child For Autism
If you suspect your child may have autism spectrum disorder, start by raising your concerns with your childs pediatrician. If your doctor determines that your child may be showing symptoms of autism, they will refer you to a specialist who treats children with autism spectrum disorder, such as a child psychiatrist or psychologist, pediatric neurologist, or developmental pediatrician, for an evaluation.
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When Should I Tell My Child
This is your decision. Some parents tell their children about their diagnosis when they’re quite young , as their son or daughter becomes aware of their differences and starts to ask questions. Other parents wait until their child is slightly older, as they feel they will understand the diagnosis better. You may want to ask your childs school or specialist psychologist to support you with your decision and approach.
Signs Of Autism In Girls
The ratio of boys to girls diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder is 4:1. However, there is some evidence that autism is going undiagnosed in girls, particularly those who are at the higher functioning end of the spectrum.
There is discussion around whether girls and women with autism may display different symptoms to boys and men, and that the current diagnostic criteria may be biased towards boys and stereotypical male behavior. Girls and women may also be better able to mask difficulties with social interactions than boys, and this may delay a diagnosis. New diagnostic criteria may be needed to assess ASD in girls and women. Past theories, including controversies such as the extreme male brain, may have led to under-referral and under-diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder in girls and women.
Signs that a girl may have autism include:
- Difficulties with social interactions however, differences from typical autism symptoms may include:
- Better grasp of emotions and ability to make friends than boys
- May mask lack of intuitive understanding of social situations by repeating role-plays seen in real life or film/television
- May be able to make friends but find difficulty keeping them
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Early Signs Of Autism In Children
Early diagnosis means early intervention. It helps provide your child a higher quality of life through teaching life skills with therapies and games.
There are certain signs to look out for while your child is growing up. They hit developmental milestones, indicating that their social, communicative and behavioral developments are on track.
Here are some of the early signs that your child may need to be further examined and tested by your physician.
What Are Autistic Traits
I like to start by thinking what Autistic traits really are. And to do that, first we need to talk a little bit about what autism really is.
Autism is a diagnosis that you can go get.
You can go to the doctor, you can fill out forms, you can see therapists and neurodevelopmental pediatricians and neuroscience and a million different people
And you can get an official diagnosis when you see the right person and they say, yes you are autistic.
But being autistic is also an identity.
If you are around autistics, it wont take long for you to kind of start to see that. Autism is an identity and its a culture of itself.
Because of that, asking what is autism? is kind of like asking what is French?
There are some overlaps between being French and being Italian. They might even do some of the same things.
But it doesnt mean its not a French thing if Italians also do it, and it also doesnt mean that it is a French thing, just because French people do it.
I know this analogy is a little strange, but the basic point is, defining with clarity, this is autism and this is not is really just an endless battle.
Because the fact is, what is autism and what is not is different for me and different for my son and different from my Autistic best friend. We all experience our identity and our culture, a little bit differently.
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When Should I Tell My Child They Have Autism
When to tell your child they have autism depends on their age, cognitive ability and social awareness, as well as your readiness to have the conversation, says Arnold. Theres no right age. It depends on the child and the family, she says, adding that its not a one-time conversation but an ongoing process.
In general, though, the experts agree that the earlier you start the dialogue, the better. This doesnt just ensure the news comes from you starting early also allows you to tap into younger kids accepting nature. Its only as kids become older and start to acquire the prejudices of society at large that they see those differences as negative things, Smith says. Starting earlier allows you to help break down the stigma and capitalize on this more positive view that were all different and were all of value.
Dundon recommends setting the stage for the conversation before the assessment even happens. You wouldnt say, Were going to assess if youre autistic, but you might say, Were going to see some people to get a bit more of an idea of how your brain works, she says. Then, after the assessment, you can tell them what the results are.
Some kids will have these thoughts but not express them, so its important to check in with other people involved in your childs care to see if theyve noticed any changes.
Signs Your Child Might Have Autism
Does my child have autism?
If youre asking this question, chances are you already have some serious concerns and that alone is enough to make most parents feel scared, bewildered, and alone.
But the fact is, many parents find themselves looking for signs of a possible problem and asking this question simply out of an abundance of caution. Thats just good parenting and its only natural with the amount of attention autism has received in recent years. The good news is, most of the time concerned parents discover that everything is absolutely fine. Noticing a single red flag or even identifying a combination of concerns often amounts to nothing more than a childs individuality expressing itself as some slight variation in normal developmental progress.
And on the other side of the coin, even if there is reason to believe your child may fall somewhere on the spectrum, the news is still good: You are not alone Your child will go to school just like the other kids and learn in a regular classroom You will get the help you need and your insurance will cover most of the expense Breathe everything is going to be all right.
Before you start arriving at any conclusions at all, its important that youre very clear about one thing: You may be able to identify some traits that indicate the possibility of autism, but only a medical professional is in a position to say for sure.
- Difficulty with social interactions
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Signs Of Autism In Older Children And Teens
Although autism spectrum disorder can reliably be diagnosed from the age of two or three years old, many children do not receive a diagnosis until they are older. Milder symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorder who are higher functioning may not be recognized until they are in school.
Autism is a spectrum condition, which means that children will have different experiences of day-to-day living. Children who are more than five years old and on into their teenage years, who have mild symptoms and are towards the higher functioning range of the autism spectrum, may:
- Develop a narrow range of interests or obsessions with certain topics
- Engage in repetitive behavior such as hand flapping, twirling or snapping a rubber band
- Not make eye contact
- Use formal language rather than the slang of their peers
- Place great importance on routines and rules
- Develop strong preferences for certain foods, clothes or objects
Children who have more severe symptoms and are towards the lower functioning range of the autism spectrum may:
- Not use speech at all
- Become extremely distressed at changes to routine
- Exhibit challenging behavior, such as being aggressive or banging head on wall
- Need assistance with everyday living, such as bathing and dressing
- Engage in repetitive behaviors, such as rocking
- Insist on rules and routine
- Develop rigid preferences for certain foods, clothes or objects
- Need specialized diets
May Be Easily Startled By Sounds Or Agitated By Background Noise
Although all children may exhibit adverse reactions to loud sounds, children with ASD have a particularly strong aversion to loud noises that may cause them to react by grimacing or wincing, rather than showing surprise or a normal wide-eyed curiosity.
It may be symptomatic of autism if you see your child convey their strongest emotions in the form of an adverse reaction to the music or TV being turned up too loud or if adults in the room are having a loud and animated conversation or if other children are playing nearby are making loud sounds or even when you run the vacuum cleaner.
This is something worth paying close attention to.
Because children with autism process the world around them differently, they may have trouble filtering out irrelevant sounds coming from the microwave or washing machine sounds that would disappear as white noise in the background for neorotypical children.
These reactions may result in fits, crying, anger, or even physically aggressive behaviorthe reaction differs based on the child and the severity of their sensitivity to noise.
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Early Signs Of Autism In Preschool Kids
You may notice differences in your childs behaviors and communication right before they go to school. Some of these signs may mean that your kid is at risk for autism spectrum disorder. Here are some of the signs listed by CDC:
- Speaking less than 15 words
- Seeming confused by the function of everyday items
- Not responding to their name when called
- Not walking
- Has repetitive behaviors like rocking back and forth
Most girls show symptoms in infancy or early childhood. But they may not be recognized.
Some studies suggest that certain symptoms are seen more commonly in boys than in girls. Repetitive behaviors, for instance, may appear more often in boys. They are easier to spot.
In addition, girls deal with ASD differently than boys. They may hide their symptoms or spend more energy on adapting to social norms.
They are more able to form friendships. This may cause ASD to not be determined early on.