What Are The Signs Of Autism In Toddlers
Signs of autism in toddlers include limited sharing in play with caregivers, limited pointing or unusual pointing, or preferring to pull family members to what they want rather than pointing or talking, says Dr. Angulo. “Caregivers may also notice that it takes a long time to get a childs attention when calling their name or that a child will walk on their toes or make unusual hand/finger movements.”
Additionally, we can also see a speech delay in toddlers or atypical speech development patterns. “Echoing, for example, can be indicative of ASD, though this is not always the case,” says Dr. Angulo.
“Toddlers can show more clear signs for ASD than babies,” says Dr. Angulo.
There is significant research showing that children with ASD can be diagnosed accurately as young as 14 months old. However, notes Dr. Angulo, some parents will say that they suspected much earlier or that they didnt notice difficulties until much later.
Note that pediatricians dont routinely screen for ASD in children until they are 18 months old. Waiting until the year and a half mark increases the likelihood that they can identify these differences in young children, while still diagnosing the condition at a young age, says Dr. Angulo. However, if you notice signs of ASD before 18 months, it really helps to mention them to your child’s pediatrician as they may not be screening for autism at earlier visits.
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.
Signs Of Speech And Language Difficulties
- Speaks in an atypical tone of voice, or with an odd rhythm or pitch .
- Repeats the same words or phrases over and over, often without communicative intent.
- Responds to a question by repeating it, rather than answering it.
- Uses language incorrectly or refers to him or herself in the third person.
- Has difficulty communicating needs or desires.
- Doesnt understand simple directions, statements, or questions.
- Takes what is said too literally .
Children with autism spectrum disorder have difficulty with speech and language. Often, they start talking late.
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The Top 9 Signs That Your Infant May Have Autism
By C. Dixon
The most recent statistics show that 1 in 68 children are now being diagnosed with autism. While diagnosis is on the rise, a child typically is not diagnosed by a professional until he or she is over two years old.
However, there are signs that could indicate your child is on the spectrum as early as six months of age. Signs and symptoms can vary, as can the severity of the symptoms. Be sure to monitor your childs development, and consult your doctor if anything concerns you. Its important to note that autism in infants can be recognized by a lack of normal behavior, rather than the presence of strange behaviors.
Coordination Fine Motor Skills And Gross Motor Skills
- Every individual generally possesses two categories of motor capabilities: gross and fine motor skills. Fine motor skills usually relate to the hands and are composed of the pincer grasp, wrist movements, and grip strength, among others. These allow the child to grasp and hold toys in the initial months and the ability to grip a pencil and draw as they get older.
- Gross motor skills relate to large body movements such as, crawling, running, walking, and executing actions concerning spatial awareness, balance, and similar factors. An absence of developmental gross or fine motor skill markers point to developmental delays.
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Getting A Second Opinion
If your doctor is unsure if a diagnosis of autism is appropriate for your infant, the CDC recommends seeking a second opinion. The earliest interventions can serve as building blocks for your childs future therapies.
They also suggest acting early as interventions can change your childs developmental path and improve outcomes in school and relationships. The CDC cites that, in the first three years of a childs life, his/her behaviors are most malleable and that children are more likely to change undesirable habits and adopt positive ones most willingly during these years. They suggest trying several interventions until you find one your child responds to best.
What To Bring To Your Appointment
Some parents find it helpful to keep a list of symptoms they suspect are likely to be autism. You can keep track of the frequency of instances each behavior occurs for reference. This kind of documentation will give your childs pediatrician a better idea of how long and how often your childs symptoms appear.
Most infants with autism will develop skills lateor might even regress in their social skills and sensory processing.
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Signs Of Autism In Babies Under 12 Months
- They usually dont look at peoples faces.
- They are indifferent to faces.
- They dont make eye contact.
- They do not smile or look directly at their primary caregivers.
- They are not sensitive to the sounds around them. They dont respond to their names. They do not try to understand other sounds coming from outside, they do not look around to understand.
- They do not like excessive attention. They dont want to be in the lap all the time.
- They dont like the traditional games we all know.
- The first signs of speech are not observed.
- They do not understand body language. They do not use body language.
Behavioural Signs In Infants Between 6 And 12 Months Can Predict Asd
A 2005 Canadian study published in the International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, with over 200 participants was the first to pinpoint specific behavioural signs in infants as young as 12 months that can predict, with remarkable accuracy, whether a child will develop autism.
Autism is one of the most prevalent disorders today, and while a bio marker was finally found last year to help with early diagnosis, its normally only 80% effective, and so far mostly being used on higher risk infants. Also it is found using an MRI, and wait times can be long. Most doctors instead must rely on parent observations, observing the child themselves, and using standardized tools like the Checklist for Autism in Toddlers . However these tools are made for children who are 18 months and older, a long time especially when early detection and intervention can help with many of the frustrations that develop from communication problems.
Because of the research done, a scale was developed to help doctors with early assessment in infants as young as 6 months . The Autism Observation Scale for Infants has been a fantastic new tool to help parents and doctors get an early diagnosis.
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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:
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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Diagnosing Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke cites four major classic symptoms which are often used by pediatricians to diagnose children with autism:
- Poor communication skills
- Stimming and repetitive behaviors
- Limited to no verbal skills
However, many of the above are almost impossible to see in a small baby who is not yet in the age range of talking or developing interests. This means many parents do not seek diagnosis until a later stage, and their child might miss out on the benefits of early intervention.
So, lets break down some of the early signs of autism parents can look out for.
Some Of The Early Signs Of Autism Spectrum Disorder Can Be Detected In Babies Under 12 Months Old Here’s What You Need To Know
Watching your baby grow is an unforgettable experience. But while every child develops at their own speed, failing to reach certain milestones could raise red flags. Some parents recognize signs of autism spectrum disorder when their baby is around 6 to 12 months oldand maybe even earlier, says Thomas Frazier, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, autism researcher, and chief science officer of Autism Speaks. Here are the early signs of autism in babies and why prompt diagnosis is key to managing the condition.
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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!
What Should I Do If My Baby Or Toddler Is Showing Early Signs Of Autism
Dont delay if you notice any of the early signs of autism in your baby, toddler or preschooler. If your child is really struggling to fit in and his differences are interfering with his life, or if you are consumed with a feeling that something just isn’t right, check in with your childs pediatrician.
If the doctor suspects a problem, your child will be scheduled for a thorough checkup to rule out other conditions, such as lead poisoning, hearing loss or certain learning disorders that may explain the symptoms.
You may end up seeing a child psychologist, a pediatric neurologist, a speech therapist, a developmental pediatrician or another professional who can evaluate your childs thinking skills, language level and motor skills.
One common tool that pediatricians and other autism specialists use is called the M-CHAT-R, which stands for Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers. The M-CHAT-R is a series of questions for autism screening in the toddler set that can evaluate a childs risk for ASD. Want to give the assessment a try at home? Click through this questionnaire and decide for yourself.
Noticing early signs of autism doesnt always end with an ASD diagnosis, since some of the symptoms can mimic those of other conditions .
- What to Expect the Second Year, Heidi Murkoff.
- What to Expect the First Year, 3rd edition, Heidi Murkoff.
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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 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
Early Autism Signs: Social Differences
It can be difficult for children with autism to recognize and understand certain social cues. That means your kiddo may not intuitively know how to react to others in some social situations. Social differences may show up in the following ways:
Not responding when you smile at them
Not following your pointed finger to see what youre referring to
Not bringing objects of interest to show you, like a cool rock they found
Using inappropriate facial expressions, such as smiling when someones upset
Difficulty making or maintaining eye contact
Showing a lack of concern/empathy for others
Difficulty making and keeping friends
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Early Signs Of Autism In Babies May Include:
- Reacting in an unexpected way to new faces
- Rarely smiling in social situations
- Making little or no eye contact
- Difficulty in following objects with their eyes
- Hearing their name does not produce a response
- Having limited or no reaction to loud sounds, or not turning their head to locate sounds
- Overreacting to some sounds
- Displaying a lack of interest in interactive games, like peek-a-boo
- Chattering, or imitating sounds and words is limited
- Gestures like pointing at an object they want or waving back at others are limited
- Tendency not to imitate the actions of other people
- Dislike of being touched or cuddled, or not reaching out when about to be picked up, or
- Displaying unusual or repetitive body movements.
What Do Early Autism Signs Mean
Please remember that no two children with autism spectrum disorder will have the same exact early signsthe number of symptoms can vary immensely. And of course, some of the traits above show up in neurotypical kids, too! That said, if you spot what you suspect may be any early signs of autismor have any questions about your little ones developmentdont hesitate to see your doctor. While a potential diagnosis might seem scary, catching autism at a young age allows your tot to get the intervention they needwhen it benefits them most.
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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.
Early Signs Of Autism In Toddlers And Preschoolers
Early signs of autism in toddlers and preschoolers include the ones listed above, so take note if your older baby avoids looking you in the eye, doesnt respond to his name by the time he turns a year old, and doesnt point, smile, babble or enjoy being held.
In addition to those early signs in babies, you might also notice the following early symptoms of autism in your older child:
Doesn’t engage in pretend play by 18 months
Prefers to play alone and doesnt seem to understand feelings in other people
Doesn’t speak or speaks with an unusual rhythm or monotone
Gives unrelated answers to questions
Appears to ignore your request
Repeats certain words or phrases constantly
Throws frequent temper tantrums in response to minor changes in routine
Intentionally and repeatedly inflicts harm on himself
Acts obsessively interested in something a rugs pattern or the spinning wheels on a toy
Moves spastically flaps hands, rocks, or spins his body in a circle
Reacts to sounds, smells or touch in an abnormal way
Has unusual food preferences
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Support Strategies For Autism
Although theres currently no cure for ASD, there are a variety of options. The overall goal of support stratefies is to decrease ASD symptoms while increasing your childs quality of life and ability to function.
Several different types of professionals may be involved in support options, including doctors, psychiatrists, and speech-language pathologists. A support strategy will focus on addressing your childs specific needs.
support strategies for autism
Possible options include:
- Psychological therapy. This can include a myriad of different therapy types, including things like various types of behavioral therapy, educational therapy, and social skills training.
- Medications. Some medications can help address ASD symptoms, such as aggression or hyperactivity.
- Speech and language therapy. This type of therapy can help a child improve their speech and verbal communication skills.
- Occupational therapy. A therapist will help your child gain everyday living skills.
- Treating other health conditions. Children with ASD may also have other health conditions, such as epilepsy. Your doctor will work to manage these conditions as well.
- Alternative therapy. Many parents consider alternative therapy to complement other support options. In some cases, risks may outweigh the benefits. Discuss alternative therapies with your childs pediatrician.
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