Signs Of Autism In Adults
Autism spectrum disorder is a lifelong condition and some people with autism spectrum disorder are not diagnosed until they are adults. This could be because they fall into the higher functioning range of the autism spectrum and their symptoms are less severe, or because they were misdiagnosed with a condition such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder.
Although treatment can improve some outward symptoms, people with autism will always process sensations such as sound, sight, touch and smell in different ways.
Autism is a spectrum condition, which means that adults will have different experiences of day-to-day living. An adult with mild symptoms, who is towards the higher functioning range of the autism spectrum, may:
- Have difficulties with social interactions
- Avoid making eye contact
- Not understand nonverbal facial or body gestures, such as frowning or shrugging
- Not understand changes in tone of voice, such as sarcasm
- Be comforted by rules and routine
- Get upset at changes to routines
- Be under- or over-sensitive to loud noises, strong smells or tastes
- Engage in repetitive behaviors, such as pacing or hand flapping
- Have a narrow range of interests
- Have a good memory and recall of facts
An adult who is towards the lower functioning range of the autism spectrum may:
One common sign of autism spectrum disorder in adults is anxiety. Signs of anxiety can include:
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.
What Does Aspergers Look Like
The three characteristics a child with Aspergers exhibits are social awkwardness, obsessiveness, and sensory issues, says John Carosso, PsyD, a child psychologist and certified school psychologist at Community Psychiatric Centers at the Autism Center of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They might be bossy, very physical, and lack empathy, he says. They may be aggressive. They want to be friendly with other children but they dont know how. Temper tantrums, self-injury, and aggression are other possible signs, as are language delays and the habit of avoiding eye gaze.
Look for deficits in social communication, repetitive behaviors, and rigidity, says Eric Hollander, MD, director of the Autism and Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Program in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. A child with Aspergers may obsess over one item, always carrying it around, he says. This also can interfere socially since this may be all the child talks about, he says. And they may be hypersensitive to clothing, sounds, touch, textures and smells.
Additionally, Dr. Hollander says, because life is generally so difficult for these children, they may mishandle social situations. These kids tend to be very emotional and are always having tantrums, he says. They are routine-oriented and very rule-oriented. They have the attitude: These are the rules and you stick with the rules.
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How Do I Know If My Child Needs To Be Tested For Aspergers
Typically, by the time a child is three, a parent will start noticing behavioral differences when compared to other children, says John Carosso, PsyD, a child psychologist and certified school psychologist at Community Psychiatric Centers at the Autism Center of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They may see their child among other children and sense their child is different, he says. A child with Aspergers tends to get into frequent conflicts with other children. They are very emotional compared to other kids and may have obsessions that other kids dont have.
If your child is having a very difficult time in a school setting or displaying explosive behavior at home, seek an evaluation, advises Eric Hollander, MD, director of the Autism and Obsessive-Compulsive Spectrum Program in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. Children with Aspergers often have strong verbal skills yet deficits in non-verbal skills, he says.
If your child is having trouble dressing herself by age five or problems with motor coordination, and difficulty drawing a box, you may want to look into getting her tested, Dr. Hollander says. Other noticeable symptoms to look for include hand flapping, repetitive head banging, temper tantrums, and avoiding other children, he says.
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:
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The 5 Easy Questions That Can Help Detect Autism
A baby brings hopes for a perfect life filled with baseball games, piano recitals, and tiny voices learning to say, “Mommy,” “Daddy, and, I love you.”
Sometimes, though, those voices never come.
A child may appear to be developing normally but when it comes time for the child to speak, parents are met with silence or meaningless babble.
It might not even occur to a parent that his or her child isn’t speaking at an appropriate age level until the child spends time with peers at daycare, preschool, or even kindergarten and isn’t able to communicate.
According to the Autism Society, one in 54 children has a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD. About one in six children have some kind of speech delay or impairment.
Oftentimes, children aren’t diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder until age four or five, but the child may begin showing signs by the time he or she is two.
That can be scary news for a parent to receive, but it certainly doesn’t mean anything is “wrong” with the child. It only means the parents will need to adjust their plans and expectations to include early intervention.
Think about that. There could be at least two to three years between showing signs of autism and receiving a diagnosis. That’s two to three years of therapy, at an age where early intervention can make a huge difference, that’s lost forever.
Perhaps most importantly, it’s helped countless parents hear the tiny voices of their children finally say, “I love you, Mommy.”
Getting Started: Introducing Your Child To His Or Her Diagnosis Of Autism
Marci Wheeler, MSW
Many parents are fearful that labeling their child as having an autism spectrum disorder will make him or her feel broken, or that they may use their label as an excuse to give up and not try. Adults on the autism spectrum have found the opposite to be true. Giving your child information on the nature of his/her differences will give them a better understanding and the motivation that is needed to drive through challenges.
Discussing an autism spectrum diagnosis with your child is an important issue and one for which many parents seek advice. This article will focus on aspects of explaining your childs diagnosis to him or her, and provide resources that can assist and guide you.
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Signs Of Autism Meltdown
For some people with autism, sensory overload can become overwhelming. In these situations a person may have a meltdown. A change in routine can also precipitate a meltdown.
A meltdown is not a temper tantrum and can be experienced by someone with autism of any age. A meltdown should be managed by calming the person and addressing the cause of the distress.
Signs that a meltdown may be developing, sometimes known as the rumbling stage, include:
- Nail biting
- Chronic gastritis
- Chronic duodenitis
Many people with autism spectrum disorder also have food intolerances and may find that a diet which excludes gluten or casein helps.
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.
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How Accurate Is It
This quiz is NOT a diagnostic tool. Mental health disorders can only be diagnosed by licensed healthcare professionals. If youd like to learn more about autism read Psycoms guide to autism spectrum disorder .
Psycom believes assessments can be a valuable first step toward getting treatment. All too often people stop short of seeking help out of fear their concerns arent legitimate or severe enough to warrant professional intervention.
How Do You Talk With Your Child About Their Autism Diagnosis
It can be hard to decide what and how much information to share when talking to your child about their autism diagnosis. Setting a positive tone when discussing autism spectrum disorder and making sure you understand what your child is truly asking is very important. Establish a positive attitude about their differences from the outset, then answer their questions simply and honestly. If your child is of reading age, you may want to consider finding some childrens books on the topic of autism spectrum disorder to read with them.
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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.
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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Signs And Symptoms Of Autism
There are many signs and symptoms that could indicate a person has autism spectrum disorder. Not all adults or children with autism will have every symptom, and some adults and children without autism may display some of the same behaviors and symptoms.
People with autism spectrum disorder often have difficulties with communication, and connecting emotionally and socially with others. They may also process sensory information, such as sounds and smells, differently from other people. These differences can underlie some of the behavioral signs of autism that people may display.
When looking for early signs of autism spectrum disorder, there are developmental milestones that children are expected to reach by certain ages, such as babbling by four months old and being able to use simple sentences by two years old. If a child reaches these milestones later, or does not develop the skills at all, it may indicate a developmental disorder such as autism spectrum disorder.
Autism can be diagnosed by age two, though symptoms may be apparent much earlier.
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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Restricted Or Repetitive Behaviors Or Interests
People with ASD have behaviors or interests that can seem unusual. These behaviors or interests set ASD apart from conditions defined by only problems with social communication and interaction.
Examples of restricted or repetitive interests and behaviors related to ASD can include:
- Lines up toys or other objects and gets upset when order is changed
- Repeats words or phrases over and over
- Plays with toys the same way every time
- Is focused on parts of objects
- Gets upset by minor changes
- Has obsessive interests
- Flaps hands, rocks body, or spins self in circles
- Has unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
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.
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Lack Of Eye Contact And Joint Attention
Joint attention refers to two people sharing a focus on the same object after one alerts the other to the item using verbal or nonverbal cues. For example, a parent or caregiver will point to a toy or tell the child about it, and the child will then look at the toy. Joint attention is an important way of connecting and interacting with other people.
According to a 2016 article in PLOS ONE , from about 9 months old, a baby should be able to make regular eye contact and share focus with their caregivers.
Autistic babies can find it challenging to pick up on these social cues and may ignore the person or the object that they are pointing out.