Development Of Infants With Early Signs Of Autism
While your baby is growing up, you may wonder if they are developing as they should. There are certain developmental milestones children hit as they grow up.
It is important to keep an eye out for these so that you can see if your child is behind on their development.
- smile at people
- try to look at their parents
- turn their head towards sound
If you notice that your baby is not engaging in such activities, you may want to get your child tested for ASD.
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.
I Know Im Not Supposed To Compare But
The older Little A gets the more ashamedly bemused I am that I didnt notice something was different about Big A. But, you know, hindsight: its 20/20.
I dont mean to take anything away from Big A. I love him so. We know he loves us too. But, cheese and crackers, do Big A and Little A show affection in different ways. Looking back, I can see how Big A couldtake us or leave us. He liked having us near. He liked if we sat on the floor while he was playing. But Big A wasnt playing with us. Little A is, like, obsessed with us. He thinks being near his grownups is ok, but being on them is much better.
Little A does the more classic ratio of exploring an area and checking back in with a caregiver. Big A would take a much longer time between check-ins and when he did, a quick word or smile would suffice before rolling, stimming, or exploring recommenced. Little A wants interaction with his frequent check-ins: a song, a game, a social exchange.
When we made faces at Big A he would watch, transfixed. Big eyes, a bit slacked jawed. Little A laughs, attempts imitation, and grabs at our features. Little A craves to see the faces of his caregivers, hell cry if turned away. Yes, Big A would look to me during times of uncertainty for social cues, but it just isnt the same.
Some of these examples are personality differences. But Ive come to see that some are differences between more neurotypical traits and autism spectrum disorder traits in infants.
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Early Signs Of Autism In Boys
Autism is seen more prevalently in boys than in girls. Therefore, the core symptoms mostly coincide with the symptoms we have mentioned to be seen in children with autism in all ages.
Here are some of the early symptoms in autistic boys:
- Doesnt make eye contact
- Has repetitive behaviors
- Doesnt like physical contact
How Is Autism Diagnosed
The sooner a toddler with autism gets an accurate diagnosis and starts treatment, the better his chances of being able to manage his symptoms and learn to interact with other children and adults.
The great news is, because you know your little one better than anyone, diagnosis can start with you no need to wait for your pediatrician to pick up on signs of autism in your child .
If at any time you notice any of the typical toddler autism signs in your child, let the pediatrician know right away. He or she can put you in touch with a developmental specialist, who typically will make the official diagnosis. If your child does indeed have autism, youll get a referral to a state early intervention program, which can get you set up with support for your child and the rest of your family too.
What are the red flags? Heres a short list:
- Slow to smile or laugh
- Resists cuddling or holding
- Doesn’t point at objects a dog, for example to show interest
- Avoids eye contact
- Fails to respond to his name by 12 months
In Toddlers and Preschoolers
There are other early signs too. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the brains of children with autism develop differently from an early age, and larger-than-average head size or rapid head growth may be an ASD indicator. In the study, those children with the most severe autism showed the most dramatic growth in brain size during infancy.
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What If Your Child Shows Some Early Signs Of Autism
Any one of these signs may not be a problem. But in combination, they may signal a need to conduct a screening or diagnostic evaluation.
As a general guide, if your child shows any 4 of these early signs, use our free online Social Communication CheckUp to screen your baby for autism.
If your child shows 8 or more of these early signs, ask for a referral for a diagnostic evaluation.
Talk to your childs doctor or teacher about any of these early signs or contact your local early intervention program. Share this article with them.
Early Signs Of Autism In Babies Aged 0
Shortly after they are born, babies begin to smile and coo at people around them. By the time they turn 2 months old, they are able to pay attention to faces.
If the child has autism spectrum disorder, this may not be the case. If a child doesnt smile, or smile as big, and is not showing any warm expression, it may be a sign of autism spectrum disorder.
The following signs can also be seen by the time the baby turns 3 months old:
- Doesnt respond to loud noises,
- Doesnt grasp objects,
- Doesnt follow objects with their eyes,
- Doesnt babble,
- Doesnt point to things,
- Doesnt respond to their names,
- Cant stand when supported,
- Doesnt babble
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Difference Of Autism Signs In Boys And Girls
The symptoms of ASD may range from mild to extreme, and there is no definitive list of symptoms that are sure to be shown by each and every child. On top of that, since boys are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder four times more than girls , classic symptoms may be described in a way to refer more to the boys.
The symptoms are generally the same for the both. But, an autistic girl may be:
- hide their feelings better
- good at imitating social behaviors.
This can make the impairs seem much less noticeable compared to the case of boys. Also, the autism traits in girls are reported less by their teachers.
It is important to note that not all children with autism show all of the signs. In addition, many children who actually dont have autism may show a few of the symptoms and signs. That is why professional evaluation is of utmost importance.
There are certain developmental milestones children reach in terms of their language and social abilities. Caregivers should take notice of these milestones. They should observe children closely during the first few years of their lives. These are crucial times in terms of early diagnosis and intervention. Although not reaching a milestone at a specified time or achieving it late does not necessarily mean that the child has autism, it may be a sign of a developmental delay.
Very Focused On Or Attached To Unusual Objects
Babies with autism can be very focused on or attached to objects that are unusual for their age, such as long strips of cloth, utensils, chains, rocks, sticks, flowing water, or gadgets they can take apart and put together.
If your child is very focused on or attached to unusual objects, this may be an early sign of autism.
Gets Upset Around Large Groups Of People
This happened even as a baby. I remember on my very first Mothers Day going out for dinner. As soon as we walked into the restaurant my son started crying inconsolably and he didnt stop until we left.
He was only 4 months old.
I chalked it up to being tired, but it was more than that.
However, he had the same response to family gatherings, birthday parties, and any situation where there were more than a few people present.
Large groups still upset him to this day, we even ate dinner and opened gifts in the bedroom at my in-laws on Christmas Eve because they had a lot of visitors.
When we go to school, if there are more than 5 people in the classroom when he arrives, he needs to start the day somewhere else quietly.
Its not as bad if hes there first and people begin arriving gradually, but he cant walk into any type of crowd.
The Wheels On The Bus
As soon as Big A could move independently, he crawled his baby butt to the wood floor of our dining room to roll his toy cars. Back and forth. Four inches from his face. Tiny index finger outstretched, tip of tongue exposed, eyes focused in concentration. It was pretty cute, actually. I was proud of his attention span .
I knew he was doing it too much. Because he would occasionally play with other toys, did not meltdown when diverted from his preferred activity, and showed such advanced concentration skills we brushed aside our concerns.
This fixation on a toy or activity is a common marker of autism. One of the many things I didnt understand was that he didnt know how to play with his toy cars. Big As speech therapist urged me to watch toddlers playing with cars. Other children make car noises, crash them and yell boom, put things in them. They dont only roll the toy cars back and forth in front of their face.
We started redirecting Big As rolling and hes been a good sport. Hell probably always need his rolling breaks when things are too much. Now hell pass cars back and forth like theyre balls. Occasionally well play hauling games with the trucks. Sometimes he makes car sounds. For two days he quit signing and would only say beep beep! to all queries. That was fun.
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Signs Of Autism In Infants
Its important to note that every baby is unique and their symptoms or development may be different than whats listed here below. Its always best to consult your pediatrician or find a pediatric specialist in development to discuss any abnormal or odd habits that your baby is showing that could be signs of autism in infants.
What Are The Signs Of Autism
The autism diagnosis age and intensity of autisms early signs vary widely. Some infants show hints in their first months. In others, behaviors become obvious as late as age 2 or 3.
Not all children with autism show all the signs. Many children who dont have autism show a few. Thats why professional evaluation is crucial.
The following may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, ask your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation right away:
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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.
Hard To Look At You And Use A Gesture And Sound
Babies learn to use gestures and sounds from 9-16 months to let you know what they want or dont want, and what theyre interested in.
It should be easy for your baby to use a gesture and sound while theyre looking at you.
If its hard for your baby to look at you and use a gesture and sound, all at the same time, this can be an early sign of autism.
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Sensory Stimuli May Result In An Overreaction Or No Reaction At All
Many autistic individuals have trouble processing sensory information and can become easily overwhelmed, even on an outing to a restaurant or grocery store. Sights, sounds and movements, even tastes and smells, can all be overwhelming to the autistic child, especially in combination with one another.
This may present itself as one of two extremes: you may notice either an observable overreaction or an under-reaction to stimuli.
In the case of an overreaction, an autistic child may flinch away from touch, even something as gentle and unthreatening as a pat on the head or a touch on the arm. Others may throw a fit when getting dressed because the tactile sensation of the clothing creates a feeling of anxiety.
Some children with hypersensitivity to noise and other stimuli may react in the opposite waythey may show no response at all to sounds and visual stimuli, even things that would usually startle or surprise a child. This might strike you as so unusual that it causes you to wonder if your child is having difficulty hearing. An autistic child may also have no reaction to sensory stimuli that would ordinarily be fun, curious and exiting, something that can be just as disconcerting for a concerned parent.
ABA therapy can do wonders for sensory processing disorders, which are often a part of ASD, but also may affect neurotypical children.
Does Your Child With Autism Know About The Diagnosis
When did you tell him or her? As an adult on the spectrum, how did you find out that you have autism?
At my cafe book signing last fall, a young woman walked up to my table with her daughter. I dont think she was in the café already. It was as if she just appeared. She had no purse and told me she was walking down the street to meet someone, so I can only assume she came into the café after seeing my sign in by the front door.
She immediately began talking to me about her ten-year-old son. She told me that he is in a special class for exceptionally gifted children. He has ADHD. Oh yes, he has autism also. She and her husband have not told him about the autism diagnosis, which I felt must be recent. They have told him and the school that all of his learning and social struggles are because of his ADHD.
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What Are The Signs Of Autism In Babies
Autism doesnt change a babys physical appearance. The condition does affect how babies communicate and how they relate to the world around them.
Autism is described as a spectrum condition because signs, symptoms, and abilities can vary widely. If you notice any of these developmental differences, its important to talk with your childs doctor or healthcare professional about them.
Later Warning Signs Include:
Its important to note that each and every child is unique. Autism is a complex spectrum disorder and symptoms will range widely from person to person. Each child will vary depending on their measured intelligence, social interaction, communication, behaviors, sensory response, and motor skills. For example, in terms of repetitive behaviors , where do they fall on a scale from mild to intense?
Pay special attention to playtime. If a child under the age of two shows zero interest in showing or sharing toys or prefers to line their toys up instead of playing with, they should be evaluated.
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I Think My Child May Have Autism
If you think your child has autism or your child is showing signs or symptoms of autism, it is important to have them screened. The sooner your child receives a diagnosis, the sooner they can begin needed services which can improve their outcome and quality of life.
This article will give you information about the screening and assessment processes, including:
- How to prepare for your appointment
- What to do during your appointment
- Answers to frequently asked questions, such as what to do if a doctor or school tells you to wait and see