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 Exhibit Difficulty Recognizing Facial Expressions And Making Eye Contact
From an early age, children learn to make eye contact with their parents, smile when they are being smiled at, and point or wave at things they find interesting, such as an animal at the zoo or a favorite toy.
Children on the autism spectrum have a harder time recognizing emotion in facial expressions and may show little to no emotion themselves. When something startling occurs , its actually normal for a child to look to their parent and in seconds process their facial expression to identify what emotion is being conveyed. This is done as a way to verify if they too need to be concerned with what just happened. With an autistic child, however, there is often no reaction at all, which for a parent, can be very puzzling and concerning.
Older children with ASD will often look at the ground or let their eyes wander when an adult is speaking to them making eye contact is often a key struggle for children with ASD.
Because children on the spectrum have trouble reading facial expressions, they may fail to react or even react inappropriately when a parent or sibling is expressing joy, anger, or sorrow.
Early Signs Of Autism In Babies Aged 0
Shortly after they are born, babies begin to smile and coo at people around them. By the time they turn 2 months old, they are able to pay attention to faces.
If the child has autism spectrum disorder, this may not be the case. If a child doesnt smile, or smile as big, and is not showing any warm expression, it may be a sign of autism spectrum disorder.
The following signs can also be seen by the time the baby turns 3 months old:
- Doesnt respond to loud noises,
- Doesnt grasp objects,
- Doesnt follow objects with their eyes,
- Doesnt babble,
- Doesnt point to things,
- Doesnt respond to their names,
- Cant stand when supported,
- Doesnt babble
Inspecting Toys Rather Than Playing With Them
Most young kids will inspect a toy before playing with it. But a child with autism may not move past the inspection phase, Pandey says. So while a child without autism will race a car along the floor, or fly an airplane through the air, a child with autism might continue to spin the cars tires or examine the bottom of the plane. Their interest is in the parts of the object rather than the whole, she says.
If another child tries to interact or play with him, a child with autism may not know how to react.
What Is A Spectrum Disorder
Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that people can experience a wide range of symptoms and of varying severities. For example, a person with autism who is towards the high functioning range of the spectrum will have a good grasp of language, but a person towards the low functioning range of the spectrum may not speak at all.
As such, it is important to note that a person with autism spectrum disorder will not display all symptoms and symptoms will vary in severity. However, a person with ASD will display several of these behaviors and signs.
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What Can Mimic Autism
Developmental delays such as language, speech, or hearing problems can often be mistaken for autism. There are also a number of specific disorders that are characterized by similar behavioral symptoms to autism. According to the Autism Research Institute, Williams Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, and Landau-Kleffner Syndrome, are all closely related to autism.
Social Communication And Interaction Skills
Social communication and interaction skills can be challenging for people with ASD.
Examples of social communication and social interaction characteristics related to ASD can include:
- Avoids or does not keep eye contact
- Does not respond to name by 9 months of age
- Does not show facial expressions like happy, sad, angry, and surprised by 9 months of age
- Does not play simple interactive games like pat-a-cake by 12 months of age
- Uses few or no gestures by 12 months of age
- Does not share interests with others
- Does not point or look at what you point to by 18 months of age
- Does not notice when others are hurt or sad by 24 months of age
- Does not pretend in play
- Shows little interest in peers
- Has trouble understanding other peoples feelings or talking about own feelings at 36 months of age or older
- Does not play games with turn taking by 60 months of age
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Communication Differences In Children With Autism
-Less likely to point at things to indicate needs or share things with others-Says no single words by 15 months or 2-word phrases by 24 months-Repeats exactly what others say without understanding the meaning -May not respond to name being called but does respond to other sounds -May refers to self as you and others as I and may mix up pronouns-May show no or less interest in communicating-Less likely to start or continue a conversation-Less likely to use toys or other objects to represent people or real life in pretend play-May have a good rote memory, especially for numbers, letters, songs, TV jingles, or a specific topic-May lose language or other social milestones, usually between the ages of 15 and 24 months
Find The Why For Autism And Hitting
Some kids have aggressive outbursts with people who put demands on them or try to tell them they cant have something they really want. Other kids have aggressive outbursts when theyre not engaged or when theyre bored or when theyre in pain. Another important thing to look at is when the hitting does not occur. So, if you said your son wont hit if he was given free access to his iPad all day long or if hes in a swimming pool, then that will give you important information as you make a plan to understand how to stop autism and hitting or at least reduce the behavior.
- You have trouble regulating your emotions and your responses to them.
- Changes in routines and expectations cause outbursts or meltdowns.
- When something unexpected happens, you respond with an emotional meltdown.
- You get upset when your things are moved or rearranged.
- You have rigid routines, schedules, and daily patterns that must be maintained no matter what.
- You have repetitive behaviors and rituals.
- You make noises in places where quiet is expected.
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The Two Conditions Are Often Confused But Theyre Not The Same
Many people on the autism spectrum have atypical responses to certain sensations. One person might become overwhelmed in a noisy, brightly-lit shopping center, while another might have to cut all the labels out of their clothing because they cant stand the feeling of the tags rubbing against their skin.
Those sensory sensitivities were believed to be hallmarks of autism for decades, until new research began to reveal that sensory processing disorder may be a condition all its own.
SPD presents in one of three broad patterns:
- Sensory modulation disorder, which impairs a persons ability to regulate their response to sensations. Someone with this pattern of SPD might overreact to, under-react to, or excessively crave sensory input.
- Sensory-based motor disorder, in which problems with the sense of balance or the sense of body position make it challenging for a person to plan and execute movements.
- Sensory discrimination disorder, which causes difficulties in interpreting sensations. A person with this type of SPD might have trouble telling the difference between the letter N and the letter M or might not be able to tell when they have to use the bathroom.
SPD was conflated with autism spectrum disorder for many years because SPD is so common in autistic individuals. Recent studies suggest that between 90% and 95% of people on the autism spectrum have sensory processing differences.
Language And Communication Skills
An autistic child who needs more support in developing language and communication skills may exhibit some of these signs:
- cannot form sentences
- does not answer questions appropriately or follow directions
- does not understand counting or time
- reverses pronouns
- rarely or never uses gestures or body language such as waving or pointing
- talks in a flat or singsong voice
- does not understand jokes, sarcasm, or teasing
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What Does An Autism Diagnosis Mean For My Child
An autism diagnosis can result in some beneficial effects, but also comes with associated risks, disadvantages, and contraindications. Once your child is diagnosed with autism, you can expect your doctor to devise a specific treatment plan, comprised of therapy and/or medication to help your child function more easily in daily life. You can also seek specific guidance and support for your child to thrive at school. Despite these benefits, a diagnosis of autism also come with the risk of social stigmatization for the child. There is also a range of physical and mental-health conditions that frequently accompany autism including but not limited to: gastrointestinal problems, epilepsy, ADHD, anxiety, and depression.
Can A Child Be Slightly Autistic
A child can be mildly autistic. Every child with autism spectrum disorder is unique and so symptoms may differ in severity and range between individuals. Children diagnosed as mildly autistic are unable to understand the body language or emotions of the people around them, but they do have normal intelligence and can conduct their daily activities.
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Tips For Staying Calm
Of course, the best way to be calm is to stay calm to start with. That means teaching your child how to manage his or her own feelings.
There are some techniques which, while not failproof, can make a big positive difference. Many are related to sensory integration therapyan approach which helps people with sensory dysfunction to manage challenging situations. These techniques include:
Very Focused On Or Attached To Unusual Objects
Babies with autism can be very focused on or attached to objects that are unusual for their age, such as long strips of cloth, utensils, chains, rocks, sticks, flowing water, or gadgets they can take apart and put together.
If your child is very focused on or attached to unusual objects, this may be an early sign of autism.
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Heightened Sensitivity Or Sensory Aversion
Autism can cause a childs senses to be touchy. A child may enjoy rubbing smooth or soft surfaces, or he may smell everything, Pandey says. But he may not like to be held or cuddled. Everyday sounds might be really hard for them, she says of children with autism. She mentions toilet flushes and vacuum cleaners as common irritants. They might hold their hands up to their ears, she says. A child with autism may also be very sensitive to bright light, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Camouflage Or Compensate For Disorder
For many years, De Pauw was one of the most popular media figures in our country and had a busy social life. His public image may therefore not be in line with the cliché image that many people have of people living with ASD. It often happens that people can camouflage or compensate for their disorder for years so strongly that they themselves do not even notice that it exists.
In the event of a major life event that involves change, such as the birth of a child, a new job or a divorce, they may suddenly notice that they have been struggling with certain aspects of life for some time. In the case of Bart De Pauw, it is therefore quite possible that he only realized what his reactions caused after the accusations of the women. I didnt read you properly, I didnt feel it right, he said in court.
In any case, De Pauws disclosure is far removed from the defense that his lawyers conducted during the trial. They did their best to dismiss the statements of the bourgeois parties as unreliable. For example, lawyer John Maes cited an expert who pointed to the existence of collaborative storytelling. In addition, statements become more similar because witnesses speak to each other and it becomes difficult to distinguish fact from fiction.
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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.
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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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
What Should I Do If My Child Is Showing Symptoms Of Autism
Call your pediatrician or your state’s Early Intervention program to schedule an appointment for a formal autism screening. From there, you may be referred to a specialist for a full diagnostic evaluation.
Before your child’s screening, you may find it helpful to fill out the M-CHAT, which stands for Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers and is an American Academy of Pediatrics-approved screening tool for autism. Print out your results and bring them with you to discuss with your child’s doctor.
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Autism Treatment: Behavior Programs
Treatment of autism is available. Behavioral therapy programs are available from several sources and they are designed to aid people in talking, communicating effectively, interacting with others, and avoiding negative or antisocial behaviors. Behavioral therapy uses positive reinforcement, self-help, and social skills training to improve behavior and communication.
Applied Behavioral Analysis and Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication are treatments available for children with autism. The Autism Society maintains a website and offers a toll-free hotline . This resource provides information and referral services to anyone who requests them.