How To Know If Your Toddler Has Autism
About half of all children in the United States with an autistic spectrum disorder are diagnosed at age five or older according to a May 2012, NCHS data brief. However, many parents are suspicious much sooner. As part of autism awareness month, we bring you clues in toddler development that can alert you to a potential issue.
Pediatricians often use a questionnaire called the M-CHAT as a screening tool. This test can be . In our office, we administer the M-CHAT at the 18-month well-child visit and again at the two-year well visit, but the test is valid down to 16 months and in kids as old as 30 months. Not every child who fails this test has autism, but the screening helps us to identify which child needs further evaluation.
At 15-18 months of age, children should show the beginnings of pretend play. For example, if you give your child a toy car, the toddler should pretend to drive the car on a road, make appropriate car noises, or maybe even narrate the action: Up, up, up, down, down, rrrroooom! Younger babies mouth the car, spin the wheels, hold it in different positions, or drag a car upside down, but by 18 months, they perceive a car is a car and make it act accordingly. Other examples of pretend play are when a toddler uses an empty spoon and pretends to feed his dad, or takes the T.V. remote and then holds it like a phone and says hello? You may also see him take a baby doll, tuck baby into bed, and cover her with a blanket.
Does The Child Naturally Imitate Play
Imitation is another form of communication, and is a key milestone on the road to verbal speech.
In addition to what Dr. Barbera mentions in her video, other communication signs that a child could have autism in addition to speech delay include a lack of response to their name and/or verbal attempts for attention, babbling and cooing during their first year and then stopping, and being unable to combine words into phrases or sentences .
Dr. Barbera recommends that concerned parents be familiar with milestones and not just those related to language. Self-care and self-regulation skills like feeding oneself and calming oneself are important to note, too. She emphasizes that there is a range in development, however, and not every two-year-old is doing everything. There is no need to panic if your child isnt meeting every milestone, but knowing what milestones they should be meeting can help put you on the right path to understanding what is going on with your child.
According to the CDC, if your child shows the signs Dr. Barbera mentioned and also cant walk, doesnt notice when their caregiver comes and goes, or loses skills at 18 months old, you should contact your pediatrician.
And if your child doesnt use two-word phrases, doesnt know what to do with common items , or doesnt walk steadily at two years old, the CDC recommends you contact your pediatrician.
Learn more in the video below.
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Early Signs In Infants And Toddlers
Early signs of autism can often be detected in infants as young as 6-18 months. For example, if a baby fixates on objects or does not respond to people, he or she may be exhibiting early signs of an autism spectrum disorder.
Older babies and toddlers may fail to respond to their names, avoid eye contact, lack joint attention , or engage in repetitive movements such as rocking or arm flapping. They may play with toys in unusual ways, like lining them up or focusing on parts of toys rather than the whole. Parents who notice these signs, or are concerned their children are not meeting developmental milestones, should contact their pediatricians and request a developmental screening. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends routine screening of all infants for autism as part of 18-month and 24-month well-baby examinations.
Early diagnosis and early intervention are critical. Studies show that about half of children with autism who are in an evidence-based early intervention program from age 3-5 can gain enough skills to be mainstreamed for kindergarten. There are now evidence based interventions for babies as young as 12 months old, and studies are underway to design treatments for 9 month old babies at risk for autism.
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Dont Miss The Warning Signs Of Autism
Dear mamas, please dont let someone talk you out of further investigation. If you are concerned at all about your little ones behaviors, ask a doctor. Do your research. Dont miss the warning signs! Autism is such a broad disability, and there are so many ways it can present itself so dont be tricked into thinking that your child must fit the mold of a textbook autistic individual in order to be autistic.
You are your sons or daughters biggest advocate. If something about their behavior doesnt seem right, do everything you can to get them the resources they need to prosper. Connect with other parents, and get their support and advice. Cry with others in the trenches, and learn from those who have had successes. You can join my free to chat with other moms about autism and sensory integration disorders. Help is just a click away!
Starting Early And Moving Forward
Dr. Boyd, the researcher at UNC, theorized that repetitive behaviors, from rocking to special interests, may differ widely, but they have one thing in common. What connects this broad category of behavior is inflexibility. Maybe the reason the child spins the top all that time, or the reason someone talks about the same topic over and over, is that they are inflexible in their thinking. There isnt a drug that helps you be more flexible.
He advocates more research into behavioral interventions for repetitive behaviors, especially the less studied higher-order ones, along with early intervention.
Early intervention may help children learn early on to be more flexible, he said. The concern is that if you dont address some of those things early, they become more difficult as children age and the behaviors become more ingrained.
See IANs Challenging Behaviors section.
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Lack Of Symbolic Play Skills
Symbolic play is just another term for pretend play. By the age of 3, most children have developed fairly sophisticated tools for pretend play, both alone and with others.
They may use toys exactly as they’re designedâplaying “house” with a pretend kitchen and eating plastic food. Or they may make up their own pretend play, such as turning a box into a fortress.
Children with autism rarely develop pretend play skills without help. They may enjoy placing toy trains on a track. But they’re unlikely to enact scenes or make sound effects unless they are actively taught and encouraged to do so.
Even when children with autism engage in symbolic play, they may repeat the same scenarios over and over again. They may use the same words and even the same tone of voice.
Early Signs Of Autism: Does My Toddler Have It
Written By Melinda Wenner Moyer for Slate
A few columns ago, while attempting to explain why toddlers do crazy things, I mentioned that my 21-month-old son likes to line up his toy cars over and over and over again. A reader highlighted this habit in the comments section and asked whether Id had my son screened for autism. Her implication, I think, was that I should be concernedrepetitive behaviors can be early signs of the developmental disorder, and autism symptoms usually appear before kids turn 2.
Reading her comment, I realized that I had a lot to learn about autism. Sure, we hear about the disorder all the time in the media, but much of what were told is either highly controversial or total hogwash, like the idea the U.S. is in the throes of an autism epidemic or the notion that vaccines cause autism . Maybe I just dont read enough, but I have rarely come across information about how I, as a parent, might identify the signs of autism in my child. And this lack of awareness, if it extends to other parents, could be a problem, because research suggests that some autistic children greatly benefit from early behavioral intervention programs that can boost social and language skills, IQs, independence, and adaptability.
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How Does Autism Affect A Childs Social Skills
A child with ASD has a hard time interacting with others. Problems with social skills are some of the most common signs. They might want to have close relationships but not know how.
If your child is on the spectrum, they might show some social symptoms by the time they’re 8 to 10 months old, including:
- They don’t respond to their name by their first birthday.
- Playing, sharing, or talking with other people donât interest them.
- They prefer to be alone.
- They avoid or reject physical contact, including hugging.
- They avoid eye contact.
- When theyâre upset, they donât like to be comforted.
- They donât understand emotions — their own or othersâ.
- They may not stretch out their arms to be picked up or guided with walking.
How Often Is Autism Misdiagnosed As Adhd
In a 2014 review of studies looking at the co-occurrence of ADHD and ASD, researchers found that between 30 to 50 percent of people with ASD also have symptoms of ADHD. Researchers don’t fully understand the cause for either condition, or why they occur together so frequently. Both conditions may be linked to genetics.
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Here Is What I Think That Row Of Tiny Toys Often Means:
Very young children have a natural interest in order and understanding spatial relationships. Kids like routine and familiarity way more than most adults. Some children who line up toys are just experimenting with how lines are formed or seeing how long a row of cars they can create. Some will even match colors or sizes.
It is OK if Lightening McQueen has to be the first in the line at all times. Sometimes rigid routines have a beneficial developmental purpose. When your child tells you that you just read Goodnight Moon wrong , he is really saying that he likes the familiarity and the orderliness of hearing those words said in exactly that order. Boring to you, comforting to him.
Experts in early literacy will tell you that a childs fondness for hearing the same story over and over is actually a developmental milestone in phonemic awareness, the cornerstone of language mastery.
When Does A Toddler Lining Up Toys Become A Concern
Its been found that toddlers displaying autistic behaviour find lining up toys an appealing activity. Their desire of taking control and keeping things safe and constant may cause them to indulge in activities that require a sense of order. Toddlers who frequently line up toys in a pattern may get cranky if the lines made by them are disturbed- either accidentally or unintentionally.
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What Does It Mean When A Child Lines Up Toys
A toddler lining her toys up after making sensible distinctions is actually a skill. Its a development phase that speaks of the childs ability to differentiate items and group them together correctly. Be it on the basis of size, shape, colour or just any other trait, this activity shows that shes learning the art of ordering things through play.
Signs Your Toddler May Have Autism
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates impacts nearly 15 percent of children . While autism is present in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, the CDC reports it occurs 4.5 times more often in boys than in girls. According to the Autism Navigator, the signs of autism are usually seen in early childhood. Although there is no cure for autism, early intervention can help kids increase their development skills to help them do well in school, get involved in activities they enjoy, go on to college, and find jobs in adulthood.
While the signs and symptoms of autism vary from child to child, I spoke with Dr. Latha Soorya from the Autism Assessment, Research, Treatment, and Services Center at Rush University Medical Center about the signs to look for that may indicate your toddler has autism. Dr. Soorya was quick to remind me of the adage, If youve met one person with autism, youve met one person with autism, meaning every persons experience with autism is different. That said, these are some signs to watch for.
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Why Autistic Children Play Differently
A child lines up toys in the same order over and over again with no apparent meaning to the chosen order, But Im guessing non-autistics may be a little surprised, Ordering things does not necessarily indicate a lack of imagination, lining things up is not a definite sign of autism, and though it may be an early sign for Autism (and thats okay, duh, Views: 135K, one of my daughters is like my little mini me- she sees me cleaning she is going to as well, and
How Autistic Play Is Different
Kids with autism play differently from other kids. From a very young age, they are likely to line objects up, play by themselves, and repeat actions over and over. They’re also less likely to engage in games that require “make-believe,” collaboration, or social communication.
Of course, many children without autism line up objects, play alone, or choose other activities over make-believe. But children with autism are apparently unaware of others’ activities and preferences. Typically-developing children imitate their peers to learn new play skills, collaborate with others, and ask questions when they’re confused.
Typically-developing children who play alone generally do so for a reason. They are capable of joining in when they’re ready or encouraged to do so.
Children with autism may seem unaware of other children. They may appear to be unable to learn new play skills through observation or communication.
Here are some differences to watch for:
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What Are The Next Steps
Signs of autism are usually evident by 4 years old. If youve noticed signs of autism in your child, its important to talk with their doctor to get them screened as soon as possible.
You can start by going to their pediatrician to explain your concerns. The pediatrician can give you a referral to a specialist in your area.
Specialists who can diagnose autism in children include:
- developmental pediatricians
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Why Does My Child Line Up Their Toys
Children are filled with idiosyncrasies, any number of which can be mystifying and maddening to parents. You may have no idea why your child does the things they do and the truth is that they themselves may not know.
Case in point, children putting their toys in a line. There are any number of reasons why they may do that, each of which reveals something intriguing and potentially important about your child.
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Lining Up Toys: Developmentally Appropriate Play Or A Sign
I am here to tell you today that it is okay if your toddler is lining up toys, self-isolation and repetition ofThis can mean peculiar playlike lining up toy cars rather than driving them along the floora desire to be isolated or an acute sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights, the child has different ways of playing with its toys , repetitive behaviour such as playing withWhy Toddlers Organize and Line Up ToysThe desire to line up toys or arrange them in a certain order is a very common aspect of children on the autism spectrum and the key for these kidsHome Country: USOne sign of autism is lining up toys in different patterns, limited or no eye contact, their skills improve,), According to the pathology paradigm, There is actually a purpose for toddlers to line up their toys, toe walking, lining things up is not a definite sign of autism, October 23, The good part > no, Most autistic adults who read this will probably think yeah, According to Autism Speaks, Many young children line things up as part of their normal development, toe walking
Active Body Active Mind
My rituals were repetitive, but my thoughts werent confined to the rituals. Instead, while I repeated familiar activities, I let my mind wander. I pondered the nature of the universe, processed events in my life, and imagined alternate realities.
Here are some of the things I remember thinking about:
- Mentally preparing myself for moving house
- Imagining an intricate world in which houses are on stilts and people travel by canoe
- Determining why the sky is darker on top and lighter near the horizon
- The story I was writing
So when you see an autistic kid engaging in repetitive behavior, instead of thinking that kid is doing nothing, think that kids brain is hard at work. They may be imagining something, reviewing something that happened, or trying to figure out the answer to a question.
Is lining up toys productive? Not really.
But are the thoughts in your kids head productive? Probably.
Repetitive actions are often correlated with the mind being deep in thought. And thats a good thing.
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