What Are Some Common Signs Of Asd
Even as infants, children with ASD may seem different, especially when compared to other children their own age. They may become overly focused on certain objects, rarely make eye contact, and fail to engage in typical babbling with their parents. In other cases, children may develop normally until the second or even third year of life, but then start to withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement.
The severity of ASD can vary greatly and is based on the degree to which social communication, insistence of sameness of activities and surroundings, and repetitive patterns of behavior affect the daily functioning of the individual.
Social impairment and communication difficultiesMany people with ASD find social interactions difficult. The mutual give-and-take nature of typical communication and interaction is often particularly challenging. Children with ASD may fail to respond to their names, avoid eye contact with other people, and only interact with others to achieve specific goals. Often children with ASD do not understand how to play or engage with other children and may prefer to be alone. People with ASD may find it difficult to understand other peoples feelings or talk about their own feelings.
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.
How Is Asd Treated
One of the biggest challenges is finding the most effective form of treatment. The choices seem endless and differentiating one from another can be daunting. Parents often rely on therapists to direct and administer treatment, but many parents want to learn as much as possible so theyre in the best position to help their child. The most common treatments include applied behavioral analysis, relationship-building strategies, speech/language, and occupational therapy, counseling, and social skills groups.
To learn more, read our ASD Overview article.
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How Pediatricians Screen For Autism
Children are screened by pediatricians after they are born. Your childs pediatric primary health care provider will start screening your kid for any developmental or communication challenges.
This will happen at your childs first well-baby appointment.
Pediatricians observe the behavior of your child. They inspect the babys giggles, eye movements. They point or wave and call your babys name to assess their reactions.
In addition, they get family history, examine the health of the child as well as the input from the childs parents or caregivers.
With that, pediatric primary health care providers identify whether the child is at risk for autism spectrum disorder.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for ASD at their 18 and 24 month well baby visits.
This is done in addition to the regular developmental observance and screening. This may identify children with significant developmental delays early.
Multiple tools can be used by the health care provider for ASD screening like Ages and Stages Questionnaires SE-2 , Pervasive Developmental Disorders Screening Test-II , Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales , and Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers Revised with follow-up .
However, screening does not equal to diagnosis.
If pediatricians notice a delay or suspect ASD, they will refer your kid to a specialist in order to provide a certain diagnosis and plan on a treatment plan.
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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Early Signs Of Autism In Babies
A lifelong condition, autism spectrum disorder can be diagnosed before the child turns two. Early diagnosis can make an enormous difference in their quality of life later on.
There are certain early signs that can be observed in a newborn if your child is on the spectrum. You can detect the first signs in your infant really early in their life.
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.
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Early Signs Of Autism In 3 Year Old
As your kid grows older, certain signs become a little bit less clear compared to the first few months. You can get a better idea by checking the developmental milestones to see if your child is behind on some.
- Some autism red flags for 3 year olds are as follows:
- Prefers being alone,
- Doesnt like physical contact
- Has difficulty in understanding feeling
- Doesnt respond when their name is called
- Is not able to form sentences
- Speaks in flat tone
What Are The 3 Main Symptoms Of Autism
Autism or autistic spectrum disorder can manifest as different symptoms in different children. The average age of diagnosis is 2 years, though some children may be detected at around the age of 5 years.
The symptoms to look out for in children for suspected autism are:
- Delayed milestones
- A socially awkward child
- The child who has trouble with verbal and nonverbal communication
Delayed Milestones: Every child starts cooing, rolling over, babbling, smiling, pointing, and sitting up at an expected age. These are called milestones. Though every child grows at their own pace, you must visit the pediatrician if:
- The child does not smile by the age of 6 months
- The child has no facial expressions by the age of 9 months
- The child does not make cooing noises or babble by the age of 12 months
- No pointing or waving by the age of 12 months
- The child does not speak by the age of 16 months
Signs of social awkwardness: You must be concerned if your child
- Avoids eye contact while you feed him
- Prefers to play alone
- Does not respond to their name
- Does not like being touched
- Prefers fixed routines and even a minor change may upset them greatly
- Has trouble understanding feelings or talking about them
Problems with verbal and nonverbal communication:
- Echolalia: They keep repeating words over and over
- They talk in a flat tone, devoid of expressions
- They do not understand emotions in a conversation
- Have difficulty communicating what they want
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What Are The Symptoms Of Autism
The behaviours associated with autism fall into two broad areas: impaired social interaction and communication, and restricted and repetitive behaviours and interests.
The common signs and symptoms of autism are:
- lack of social or emotional exchanges like pointing, smiling, showing you things
- lack of non-verbal communication such as nodding and shaking head, using hand gestures
- difficulty developing and maintaining relationships appropriate to the age, such as peer play, lack of close friends
- delayed expressed speech and understanding of speech
- lack of eye contact when speaking
- loss of language skills at any age
- excessively following routines, patterns or behaviour, and becoming distressed at changes
- stereotyped or repetitive speech, movements or use of objects, such as rolling wheels before eyes, flapping hands, toe walking
- strongly reacting to sensory input such as sound, pain or textures
- restricted or fixated interests such as only playing with certain toys or discussing certain topics
- being aggressive toward other people or toward self
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
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How It All Fits Together
Diagnosing ASD can be very difficult, mainly because the condition starts to manifest itself early. The families of people living with the condition have to watch for early signs and symptoms in their children from as early as 18 months old.
They should also do a developmental screening test with a certified healthcare professional who will put their child through a series of questionnaires and checklists. An ASD diagnosis helps the families of autistic people understand their needs and how best they can support them.
For an adult who has lived for years with the condition, a diagnosis of ASD could finally answer any questions theyve had for most of their lives. Theyll understand why they find doing certain things harder than most people or find it challenging to communicate with people or be comfortable in social settings.
Developmental Screening In Pediatric And Primary Care Practice
Integrating routine developmental screening into the practice setting can seem daunting. Following are suggestions for integrating screening services into primary care efficiently and at low cost, while ensuring thorough coordination of care.
An example of how developmental screening activities might flow in your clinic:
Involving Families in Screening
Research indicates that parents are reliable sources of information about their childrens development. Evidence-based screening tools that incorporate parent reports can facilitate structured communication between parents and providers to discover parent concerns, increase parent and provider observations of the childs development, and increase parent awareness. Such tools can also be time- and cost-efficient in clinical practice settings.2,3,4 A 1998 analysis found that, depending on the instrument, the time for administering a screening tool ranged from about 2 to 15 minutes, and the cost of materials and administration ranged from $1.19 to $4.60 per visit.5
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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.
What Role Do Genes Play
Twin and family studies strongly suggest that some people have a genetic predisposition to autism. Identical twin studies show that if one twin is affected, then the other will be affected between 36 to 95 percent of the time. There are a number of studies in progress to determine the specific genetic factors associated with the development of ASD. In families with one child with ASD, the risk of having a second child with the disorder also increases. Many of the genes found to be associated with autism are involved in the function of the chemical connections between brain neurons . Researchers are looking for clues about which genes contribute to increased susceptibility. In some cases, parents and other relatives of a child with ASD show mild impairments in social communication skills or engage in repetitive behaviors. Evidence also suggests that emotional disorders such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia occur more frequently than average in the families of people with ASD.
Autism & Early Childhood Diagnosis
Autism is a developmental disorder that is diagnosed based on differences in behavior, compared to neurotypical individuals. As the medical understanding of autism improves, changes to diagnostic criteria in manuals like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition help doctors and counselors better recognize symptoms of autism and refer their clients for treatment.
While some people are not diagnosed until adolescence or adulthood, most people with autism are now diagnosed as children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that signs of autism most accurately show up by 2 years old. However, some children can be diagnosed as early as 18 months.
Clinicians report a range of diagnostic ages. Some children with mild or moderate symptoms in communication or socializing may not show signs of struggling until they are toddlers or older children.
When Should I See My Doctor
It’s important to seek help if you are concerned you or your child has autism. Early intervention offers the best outcomes, no matter what type of autism a child has.
There may be different signs of autism in different ages.
In the first year, a baby with autism might not be interested in other people and may not make eye contact with their parents. They may not smile or gesture like other babies.
As toddlers, children with autism might not respond to their name, or might focus on activities like lining up toys. They may not be interested in playing with other children or might speak in a monotone way.
Older children with autism might have difficulties in social situations, following instructions or making friends.
Sometimes people are not diagnosed with autism until they are adults. They may spend their lives feeling like they dont quite fit in. They may have difficulties with relationships, work and social situations. They may also have mental health conditions like anxiety or depression.
Autism Awareness Australia provides information about signs of autism in people at different ages.
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What Are Some Early Signs Of Autism In Toddlers
When a baby becomes a toddler, various developmental differences, signs and symptoms may become more apparent with the growing age of the child.
During their first year, toddlers with autism spectrum disorder may not:
- like seeing new faces,
- may not be able to walk, or w__alk only on their toes__
- may find certain sounds, tastes and smells upsetting,
- may fall into repetitive movements, like flapping their hands.
These signs may be more noticeable compared to the signs presented early on. However, the majority of children with autism are not diagnosed before the age of two due to missed signs by caregivers, or lack of access to specialists.
Early Signs Of Autism In Adults
Autism spectrum disorder occurs in all age groups. It is generally characterized by social and communication difficulties.
Severe forms are usually diagnosed in the first two years of a childs life. However, high-functioning individuals may not be diagnosed until later in their lives.
Here are some of the symptoms in autistic adults:
- Difficulty in regulating emotion
How Doctors Diagnose Autism
No parent wants to suspect signs of autism in their young child, but being on the lookout for possible signs is important for early diagnosis and effective treatment. Though autism can be reliably diagnosed by age 2, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently estimated that fewer than half of children identified with autism receive comprehensive developmental evaluations by age 3. The report also found black and Hispanic children receive developmental evaluations later than white children and continue to be diagnosed with at lower rates.
Early diagnosis of autism is critical, because early intervention and new therapies can help increase the chances of healthy development, improved function, and higher quality of life for your child.