Overreaction Or No Reaction To Sensory Stimuli May Be One Of The Early Signs Of Autism
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.
How Is Autism Spectrum Disorder Treated
There is no cure for ASDs. But some children can do well when they get treatment as soon as possible. In addition to early intervention services, children with ASD may need other kinds of treatment, including:
Medicines. While medicines cant cure ASD, certain medicines can help some children with ASD to function better. No two children with ASD are exactly alike, but talk to your childs provider to see if any medicines may help your child.
Early Intervention Services. Early intervention services can help children from birth to 3 years old learn important skills. Services include therapy to help the child talk, walk and interact with others. Visit the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center to find your states contact information for early intervention services
Behavior and communication treatment options and therapies. These include:
Complementary and alternative medicine. To help manage or relieve ASD symptoms, some parents and providers use treatments that are different from what a pediatrician typically recommends. These are called complementary and alternative medicine .
Other CAM treatments have not been studied and may be dangerous. Before starting any treatment, talk to your childs provider.
Autistic Children And Developmental Milestones
A developmental milestone is a sign of typical child development. Children reach dozens of developmental milestones between birth and adulthood. Early milestones include social smiles, rolling over, and sitting up. Later milestones involve the acquisition of language, social, physical, and emotional skills, and intellectual abilities.
Children with autism tend not to reach all of their developmental milestones at the appropriate times. But that statement is a huge oversimplification of the reality because:
- Many autistic children reach early developmental milestones on time or early, but then lose ground.
- Most autistic children reach some of their developmental milestones on time or early, but reach others late or not at all.
- Some autistic children reach some of their developmental milestones extraordinarily early but reach others extraordinarily late.
- Children with autism can appear to gain important skillsbut in fact, be unable to use those skills in real-world situations.
- Many children with autism have so-called “splinter” skills, which can be very advanced but which are not useful in daily life.
- Autistic children, particularly girls who are high-functioning, are sometimes able to hide or overcome some developmental delays.
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What Are Patterns Of Behavior With Autism
Children with ASD also act in ways that seem unusual or have interests that arenât typical, including:
- Repetitive behaviors like hand-flapping, rocking, jumping, or twirling
- Constant moving and âhyperâ behavior
- Fixations on certain activities or objects
- Specific routines or rituals
- Extreme sensitivity to touch, light, and sound
- Not taking part in âmake-believeâ play or imitating othersâ behaviors
- Fussy eating habits
- Aggressive behavior, both with self and others
- Short attention span
Early Signs Of Autism
Signs of autism in babies
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder, which means that signs become apparent as a child does not develop as expected, for example developing speech or learning to crawl later than expected.
As such, there are few signs of autism that are noticeable in newborns. However, if a baby fails to reach the developmental milestones expected at two months old, four months old, six months old, nine months old and a year old, this could be one of the first signs of autism or another developmental condition.
Good to know: Not all babies reach developmental milestones at the exact same time. It is normal to have some variation in development. If in doubt about a childâs development, check with a doctor.
Some of the early signs that a baby under one year old may have autism spectrum disorder include:
- Not babbling by four months old
- Not smiling by five months old
- Not laughing by six months old
- No interest in games like pat-a-cake or peek-a-boo by eight months old
- Not responding to their name by 12 months old
- Not looking at objects pointed out by other people by 12 months old
- Being upset by loud noises
- Not looking to a parent for comfort in new situations
- Being happy to play alone for long periods of time
- Not making eye contact
Signs of autism in toddlers
Some of the signs that a toddler, between one year old and two years old, may have autism spectrum disorder include:
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Articles On Autism Diagnosis
Autism spectrum disorder is usually diagnosed in young children. But what if you think you may be on the spectrum, and it never got diagnosed?
Parents of very young children are on the lookout for classic symptoms like lack of eye contact, repetitive movements, and sensory issues. And all kids are screened for these signs at their 18- and 24-month pediatrician well-child visits, so most cases of autism spectrum disorder are diagnosed by age 2.
That wasnÃ¢t always the case. Not too long ago, some kids who would be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder today might have been labeled as Ã¢difficultÃ¢ or Ã¢learning disabled,Ã¢ and may not have gotten the help they needed.
Now, those children are adults and they or their family members may wonder if they might have ASD.
Varied Availability Of Services
Adults with autism are entitled to nothing but are likely to receive at least some level of support. If you live in some states, youâll have little trouble accessing services and funding for adults with autism.
If you live in other states, youâre out of luck. According to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services , thes states offer the least generous programs and services:
Of course, the definition of âservices and fundingâ varies depending upon need. For example, Medicaid doesnât provide vocational training or supportservices that would be particularly useful to higher functioning adults.
Medicaid may or may not be a source of funding for housing, day programs, and other services.
One excellent, updated source of information about state-by-state offerings is Easter Seals. While they do focus quite a bit on children, they also include a wide range of detailed information about resources and services for all ages.
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Can Autism Get Better Or Worse As A Child Grows
When it comes to childrens early life, its fair to say that things get somewhat rough for people of our culture. Early studies have shown that after the age of eighteen months , an infant may slow down in reaching milestones or tend to decline in developing communication ability, which is true for 77 percent of autistic children.
Autism Symptoms And Behaviors
Individuals with autism may present a range of symptoms, such as:
- Reduced eye contact
- Not engaging in imaginative play
- Repeating gestures or sounds
- Closely focused interests
- Indifference to temperature extremes
These are just a few examples of the symptoms an individual with autism may experience. Any individual could have some, all, or none of these symptoms. Keep in mind that having these symptoms does not necessarily mean a person has autism. Only a qualified medical professional can diagnose autism spectrum disorder.
Most importantly, an individual with autism is first and foremost an individual. Learning about the symptoms can help you start to understand the behaviors and challenges related to autism, but thats not the same as getting to know the individual. Each person with autism has their own strengths, likes, dislikes, interests, challenges, and skills, just like you do.
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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.
Failure To Recognize Facial Expressions And Not Making Eye Contact Can Be Early Signs Of Autism
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.
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Regression Can Be Real Or Apparent
Over the past few years, there have been some debates as to whether regression, in which there is a loss of acquired communication or social skills, is a real phenomenon or an apparent one. Some have wondered whether parent reports were exaggerated.
Video records, however, combined with studies, make it clear that at least some children do in fact regress into autism while others either show signs of autism in infancy or “plateau” in their development.
A relatively new set of studies looking at the younger siblings of children with autism in their earliest months are discovering that subtle regression is quite common. While parents may notice issues such as loss of language or eye contact, researchers are noticing small losses in the areas of motor skills and response to social cues.
Such regression typically occurs before age 3. According to researcher Lonnie Zwaigenbaum, “upwards of 20% to 30% recall a period when their children lost social and communication skills in the second year of life.”
At present, no one knows exactly what causes regression, but according to developmental-behavioral pediatrician Paul Wang, We understand now that regression is common. It starts early, and it can affect many different developmental skills.”
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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What Are The Signs Of Autism In A Child
Inflexibility Signs Of Autism In Children
Autistic children are often restricted in their behaviors and movements. They are inflexible, and even obsessive in terms of their activities, behaviors and interests.
- Inflexibility, to an extent, can be an indication of ASD. The following are the signs of inflexibility
- Strict routines â insisting on taking the same route to school every day
- Limited topic of interest â memorizing the train schedules
- Repeating the same actions âflapping hands, rocking back and forth these are also known as stimming, self stimulatory behavior
- Unusual attachments to objects â obsessively lining the trucks or arranging them in a certain order
- Difficulty in adapting to change â getting upset when their routines are interrupted
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You First Studied Whether A Childs Autism Symptoms Changed From Ages 3 To 6 Then Expanded That In This Most Recent Study To Age 11 What Did You Find
Waizbard-Bartov: In our first study, published in 2020, we looked at symptom severity change only during early childhood. Then, because the APP is a longitudinal, or long-term study, we were able to extend our observations all the way up to age 11. When we started this process, we thought that symptom severity remained stable across time, based on several previously published studies. But what we saw, surprisingly, is that about half of the kids changed significantly in early childhood they either increased or decreased in terms of the severity of symptoms. When we extended the study to middle childhood, we found basically the same. In fact, a slightly higher percentage of kids symptoms changed into middle childhood.
Amaral – Based on the literature, the notion was that however severe you were at diagnosis, thats how youd be for the rest of your life. These two studies showed thats not necessarily the case.
Genetic Defects Occurred In Focal Patches Of Brain Tissue
Building a babys brain during pregnancy involves creating a cortex that contains six layers, says researcher Eric Courchesne, PhD. He continues:
We discovered focal patches of disrupted development of these cortical layers in the majority of children with autism. This defect indicates that the crucial early developmental step of creating six distinct layers with specific types of brain cells something that begins in prenatal life had been disrupted.
But equally as important as the evidence of developmental disruption in children with autism, the team believes, is that these defects appeared in focal patches, particularly around the frontal and temporal cortex. This suggests that this defect does not apply equally to all areas of the brain and may explain why different functional systems are affected in people who have autism.
The fact that we were able to find these patches is remarkable, given that the cortex is roughly the size of the surface of a basketball, and we only examined pieces of tissue the size of a pencil eraser, says researcher Ed S. Lein, PhD, of the Allen Institute for Brain Science. This suggests that these abnormalities are quite pervasive across the surface of the cortex.
The finding that these defects occur in patches rather than across the entirety of cortex gives hope as well as insight about the nature of autism, adds Dr. Courchesne.
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How Early Can You And Should You Diagnose Autism
- By Claire McCarthy, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing
Autism is common. According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , 1 out of every 59 children has been diagnosed with autism. Thats a marked rise from 2000, when only 1 in 150 children had been diagnosed with autism.
There is a lot we dont know about autism, such as exactly what causes it or why it is becoming more common. But one thing we do know is that the earlier we start treating it, the better. Communication and social skills are built very early. We have our best chance of improving things if we work within that natural window. Thats why there has been a steady push toward making the diagnosis as early as possible.
It is not easy for parents to hear that their child has, or might have, autism. Even when there are worries about the childs development, it is natural to hope that a child is just a late bloomer, or a bit quirky. And indeed, some children are late bloomers, or quirky, or have an entirely different problem with their development. So how early can you reliably diagnose autism?