Each Person With An Autism Spectrum Disorder Is Unique
Words used to describe an individual who is on the autism spectrum are being questioned more and more by the autism community. Terms such as mild or severe and labels like high-functioning and low-functioning are not particularly accurate and could be viewed as harmful. Someone who cant talk might have better social skills than someone who speaks well. What if the person who can speak is unable to pick up on social cues? A medical diagnosis might label the non-verbal individual as being more severely autistic than the verbal one. While individuals with autism are on a spectrum, the line is possibly more blurred than originally thought.
Some children and adults with autism have serious cognitive disabilities and sensory problems. They may display extremely repetitive behaviours including meltdowns, self-injury, defensiveness and aggression. These are often provoked by anxiety and/or pain. Without appropriate intervention and an understanding of the underlying cause, behaviours may become persistent and difficult to change. Living with and caring for a person with autism can be challenging, requiring tremendous patience and an understanding of the condition.
If You Suspect Signs Of Autism In Infants
During your childs development, its helpful to keep a notebook to jot down events, milestones, and unusual things you may witness during their development. This is a great way of keeping a log of both memories, but also any potential issues that a medical professional might want to look into.
If youve read through all the signs of autism in infants and suspect your child may be in need of an assessment, please contact us to book an appointment. Our office proudly serves Texas families and residents just like you!
The Importance Of Early Diagnosis
The American Academy of Pediatrics joins with the CDC in recommending screening at a young age to ensure early intervention and better developmental outcomes. In the U.S., the majority of autism costs are for adult rather than child services . With early diagnosis and treatment, the cost of care over a lifetime can be reduced by two-thirds.
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What Are The Signs Of Asd In Babies
Diagnosing ASD is challenging. One reason for this is that the condition presents differently in all individuals.
Babies can reach developmental milestones at slightly different ages, even when they do not have any health conditions. However, some developmental differences indicate that a baby may be autistic. These include:
How To Monitor Symptoms
It may be helpful to keep track of the childs behaviors and mannerisms. This can include keeping a diary or using an app. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a Milestone Tracker app to record noted characteristics and developments.
The CDC runs the Learn the Signs. Act Early. program, which outlines standard milestones for childhood development. This program offers free resources to help with developmental monitoring.
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Show Low Enthusiasm To Explore New Things Or Appear Underactive
A child at risk for autism might not appear to be interested in novel toys, people, or environments.
- Example of a typically developing child: As Mrs. Smith watches Johnny play at a new park she sometimes has difficulty keeping an eye on him as he moves between play structures, exploring each one. Eventually, he finds a favorite play structure and plays there for the rest of their time at the park.
- Example of a child at risk for autism: As Mrs. Jones watches Sam play at a new park she sees that he is sitting in one place and running his fingers through the sand. She attempts to encourage him to explore by placing him on various play structures but he becomes fussy and returns to his spot in the sand.
- Kaur, M., Srinivasan, S., & Bhat, A. . Atypical object exploration in infants at-risk for autism during the first year of lifer. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 798-798.
- Little, L., Ausderau, K., Sideris, J., & Baranek, G. . Activity participation and sensory features among children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45, 2981-2990.
- Ozonoff, Macari, Young, Goldring, Thompson, & Rogers . Atypical object exploration at 12 months of age is associated with autism in a prospective sample. Autism. 12. 457-472.
- Pierce & Courchesne Evidence for a cerebellar role in reduced exploration and stereotyped behavior in autism. Biological Psychiatry. 49:655-64.
Signs That Your Baby May Have Autism
Most of these are that would show up between the 6 months to 1 year range. Before that, many of these may not show up at all. It is also important to know that any one of these traits on its own is not a diagnosis. If your child is showing a number of these traits over the 6 month period, it is always good to see a doctor for assessment. Early diagnosis and treatment can really make a difference in skills building later on. Again this list should not be considered a diagnosis, only used as a tool to start a conversation with your doctor who can then start a proper assessment process.
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When To Seek Medical Advice
All children develop differently and can have different characteristics.
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children undergo developmental screening at 9, 18, and 30 months. Additionally, they also recommend screening for ASD at 18 and 24 months.
The DSM-5clarifies when certain characteristics may indicate a clinical presentation of ASD. To meet the diagnostic criteria of ASD, a child must have:
- persistent impairments in at least three areas of social communication and interaction
- two of four specific types of restricted or repetitive behaviors
A doctor or pediatrician can offer advice regarding diagnosis. They may refer you to a specialist, such as a child psychologist. Doctors use tests and observational methods to diagnose ASD.
However, some children with ASD may not have obvious symptoms of the disorder. In addition, it is not always possible to interpret fixed clinical guidelines precisely. Some clinicians may tell caregivers to wait to see if a child will grow out of it or reach certain milestones later.
All of these factors can mean a delay in diagnosis and support. In such cases, it is advisable to seek a second opinion.
If you believe that a child you provide care for could benefit from support, you can advocate for it. You do not need to wait for a formal diagnosis.
Display Unusual Sensory Sensitivities
A child at risk for autism might show unexpected reactions to certain sounds, textures, and/or tastes.
- Example of a typically developing child: When feeding 18 month-old Johnny lunch, Mrs. Smith notices that he eats a variety of foods but, as usual, refuses to eat his vegetables.
- Example of a child at-risk for autism: When feeding 18 month-old Sam lunch, Mrs. Jones notices that he refuses to eat the cheerios or pieces of banana she has given him. Sam becomes upset when presented with the solid food so Ms. Jones eventually gives him some baby food and a bottle.
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My Child Has Signs Of Autismnow What
If your child has signs of autism, Dr. Frazier advises scheduling a visit to your pediatrician right away. You’ll discuss developmental concerns, and the doctor will evaluate your baby for autism. “We have evidence that suggests the quicker you can get a diagnosis, the earlier you can enroll in developmental and behavioral interventions,” says Dr. Frazier.
Early intervention is meant to help any child with autism develop to their own full potential. The brain can respond to treatments more effectively at younger ages, which can make interventions more effective. As your child gets older, those interventions might include speech therapy, occupational therapy, mental health counseling, and whatever else experts believe will help your child thrive. The ultimate goal is “making the symptoms more manageable and enhancing life as much as possible,” says Dr. Silverman.
Cues May Signal Autism In Toddlers
Some Children as Young as 14 Months Old May Be Diagnosed With Autism
July 5, 2007 A new study suggests that about half of all cases of autism spectrum disorders may be diagnosable during the toddler years. The other half may be diagnosed later and may be a very different type of the behavioral and social disorder.
Researchers found that certain early signs of autism spectrum disorders were evident in children at 14 months of age, and this early diagnosis was then confirmed by age 3.
The fact that we can identify this at such a young age is extremely exciting because it gives us an opportunity to diagnose children with ASD very early on when intervention may have a great impact on development, says researcher Rebecca Landa, PhD, director of the Kennedy Krieger Institute Center for Autism and Related disorders, in a news release.
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Differences In Social Interaction And Play
The American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition notes that persistent deficits in social communication and interaction can indicate ASD.
These characteristics can include:
- not joining other children in play
- not being interested in peers
- not engaging in pretend or role play, such as pretending to be a superhero or doctor, by 48 months
- not demonstrating play, such as singing or dancing, for caregivers by 60 months
Can You Detect Autism In Newborns
Autism spectrum disorder can be identified in babies as young as two months old. Although subtle signs can be missed if not observed closely, there are certain red flags.
Caregivers should observe the developmental milestones of their children to be able to detect early signs of autism. Parents should be aware of the eye contact of the newborns and follow the development.
From birth, all babies will look more at the eye part of faces. According to studies conducted with babies with eye-tracking technology, lack of eye contact is one of the signs that the newborn may have autism.
The following are some of the other signs seen in newborns as they grow older.
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Autism Signs In Children
Spotting the early signs of autism in young children can be hard if youâre not an autism expert.
Many of these signs are common to all young children but they are seen more often in children who have autism.
Weâve listed here some common red flags for autism â if your child shows some of these then itâs time to check in with a qualified professional.
We also list typical developmental milestones which may be used as a guide to gauge a childâs development. If there are any concerns about a childâs development, or if there is a loss of any skills at any age, talk to a doctor as soon as possible.
- Does not turn head to locate sounds and appears not to respond to loud noises
- Does not push down on legs when feet placed on a firm surface
- Does not show affection to primary caregiver, dislikes being cuddled
- Does not crawl, cannot stand when supported
- Does not use gestures such as waving or pointing
- Cannot walk by 18 months or walks only on his toes, cannot push a wheeled toy
- Does not speak does not imitate actions, cannot follow simple instructions
- Does not appear to know the function of common household object such as a telephone by 15 months
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 problems with social communication and interaction only.
Examples of restricted or repetitive behaviors and interests 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
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Prenatal Factors That May Contribute To Autism
Taking antidepressants during pregnancy, especially in the first 3 months.
Nutritional deficiencies early in pregnancy, particularly not getting enough folic acid.
The age of the mother and father.
Complications at or shortly after birth, including very low birth weight and neonatal anemia
Maternal infections during pregnancy.
Exposure to chemical pollutants, such as metals and pesticides, while pregnant.
More research on these prenatal risk factors is needed, but if youre pregnant or trying to conceive, it cant hurt to take steps now to reduce your babys risk of autism.
Reducing the risk of autism: Tips for expectant mothers
Take a multivitamin. Taking 400 micrograms of folic acid daily helps prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. Its not clear whether this will also help reduce risk of autism, but taking the vitamins cant hurt.
Ask about SSRIs. Women who are taking an SSRI should talk with a clinician about all the risks and benefits of these drugs. Untreated depression in a mother can also affect her childs well-being later on, so this is not a simple decision to make.
Practice prenatal care. Eating nutritious food, trying to avoid infections, and seeing a clinician for regular check-ups can increase the chances of giving birth to a healthy child.
Source: Harvard Health Publications
Screening Tools And Tutorials
There are some great screening tools and tutorials to help parents and carers spot the early warning signs for autism. Below are some we highly recommend. Please be mindful that they are just screening tools, and not a diagnosis.
Early autism detection – ASDetect
This is a free app that empowers parents and caregivers to assess the social attention and communication behaviours of their children younger than 2Â½ years .This video-led self-assessment app is based on comprehensive, rigorous, world-class research conducted at the Olga Tennison Autism Research Centre
The app guides parents and carers through each assessment using a combination of videos and questions, as well as activities that you can do with your child. Once you have completed an assessment, you receive both an on-screen result of either âlowâ or âhighâ likelihood of autism, as well as a comprehensive formal assessment results email. See more asdetect.org/
Early signs of autism tutorial Kennedy Krieger Institute
This free 9-minute video tutorial on ASD behavioural signs in one-year-olds. The tutorial consists of six video clips comparing toddlers who show no signs of ASD to toddlers who show early signs of ASD.
Each video is presented with voice-over explaining how the specific behaviours exhibited by the child, as they occur on screen, are either indicative of ASD or typical child development.
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Communication: Early Signs Of Autism
In the first year of life, childrens social and communication development is an important area to watch for early signs of autism. Social and communication development includes things like learning to smile, make eye contact, and use gestures.
Social interaction and communicationIf young children are autistic, they might:
- not consistently use eye contact to get someones attention for example, they might not always look at you and then at a snack to show you they want it, or not look back towards you when they see something that excites them
- rarely point to or hold up objects to show you things for example, they might not point to a dog and look back at you to make sure youve seen it too, or they might drop a toy in your lap and walk away instead of holding it up and looking at you
- not consistently respond to their name being called
- not consistently use gestures on their own for example, they might not wave bye-bye or clap without being told to, or without copying someone else whos waving or clapping
- not consistently smile at you or other familiar people without you smiling at them first
- rarely copy other peoples actions, like combing their hair when you do it
- not sound like theyre having a conversation with you when they babble
- not understand simple, one-step instructions for example, Give me the block or Show me the dog.
Relationships and playIf young children are autistic, they might:
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Autism Signs By 3 Months
- They don’t follow moving objects with their eyes: “Babies at high risk for autism don’t follow caregivers as they move in the visual field,” says Dr. Frazier. “They may be more intrigued by something like a blanket.”
- They don’t respond to loud noises.
- They don’t grasp and hold objects.
- They don’t pay attention to new faces.
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