Characteristics Of Autism In Toddlers
As it turns out it is quite common for autism to go undetected in toddlers. Most toddlers with autism sit, crawl, and even walk on time so less obvious developmental issues go unnoticed.
Because I am a stay at home mom and am able to be with my child almost every second of the day, it was easier for me to notice some of the more subtle development differences.
A parent who works outside the home may not notice some of the characteristics immediately just because some are very low-key.
How Is Autism Diagnosed
Doctors diagnose children as autistic by observing them at play and interacting with others.
There are specific developmental milestones that most children reach by the time theyre 4 years old, such as having a conversation or telling a story.
If your 4-year-old has signs of autism, your doctor may refer you to a specialist for a more thorough examination. A specialist will observe your child while they play, learn, and communicate. Theyll also interview you about behaviors youve noticed at home and may request input from your childs teachers or other adults who interact with your child.
While the ideal age to diagnose and treat the symptoms of autism is 3 years old or younger, the sooner your child receives treatment, the better.
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act , all states and Washington, D. C., are required to provide an adequate education to school-age children with developmental issues. Contact your local school district to find out what resources are available for preschool-age children in your area.
Early Signs In Infants And Toddlers
Early signs of autism can often be detected in infants as young as 6-18 months. For example, if a baby fixates on objects or does not respond to people, he or she may be exhibiting early signs of an autism spectrum disorder.
Older babies and toddlers may fail to respond to their names, avoid eye contact, lack joint attention , or engage in repetitive movements such as rocking or arm flapping. They may play with toys in unusual ways, like lining them up or focusing on parts of toys rather than the whole. Parents who notice these signs, or are concerned their children are not meeting developmental milestones, should contact their pediatricians and request a developmental screening. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends routine screening of all infants for autism as part of 18-month and 24-month well-baby examinations.
Early diagnosis and early intervention are critical. Studies show that about half of children with autism who are in an evidence-based early intervention program from age 3-5 can gain enough skills to be mainstreamed for kindergarten. There are now evidence based interventions for babies as young as 12 months old, and studies are underway to design treatments for 9 month old babies at risk for autism.
Could Taking Certain Medications Increase Your Risk
Researchers have found potential links between the medication a mother takes while pregnant and autism risk. For instance, use of anti-depressants has shown association with autism;across multiple studies, says Dr. Fallin, though it remains unclear whether this link is related specifically to the drugs or to the mother’s depression itself. Also,;a study in the;Journal of the American Medical Association;has shown that valproate, a medication used to treat epilepsy and other neurological disorders, can increase the risk for autism. It’s crucial that you work with your doctor to determine whether the benefits of any medications you take outweigh the risks. In many cases, they will: “If a mother has epilepsy, it is very important that it be controlled during pregnancy, even if that requires valproate,” explains Dr. Wang. “If the mother has a seizure while pregnant, that is potentially a much bigger risk to the fetus than the drug that controls her seizures.”
What Is The Difference Between A Warning Sign Of Autism And Normal Behavior
People are social beings by nature. When they are born, babies begin to smile at people and can calm themselves. They try to look at their parents.
But a baby with autism does not smile by the time they are 3 months old. They do not engage in interactions with their parents. Generally, they do not coo, babble, or make gurgling sounds. They do not turn their heads toward sounds. These are all normal developmental milestones.
There are several developmental milestones where children hit while growing up. These are considered to be normal development because they indicate that the brain of the child is developing in a way to allow gaining certain communication and behavioral skills.
Paying attention to faces, making eye contact, or responding to their name when called are all considered to be normal behaviors by the time the child turns one year old.
If you feel like you do not see your child making these milestones or something is off with their communication and behaviors, they may have autism.
Also Check: Who Can Diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorder
What Is The Difference Between Autism And Adhd
Autism and ADHD are sometimes confused with one another.
Despite some similarities, ADHD isnt considered a spectrum disorder. One major difference between the two is that people with ADHD dont tend to lack socio-communicative skills.
Trying Out New Movement Skills
As baby muscles continue to develop, they become more daring as well. Some babies will start shaking their heads as early as four or five months old. As they become stronger, they start moving the entire body.
Even though some of the movements that the babies make may not look safe, this kind of behavior is considered normal as it happens to almost all babies. Furthermore, you also need to understand that this is the first step that your baby takes when trying to sit up without any help. Take note, however, that trying out new movement skills only last for fifteen minutes or less.
Another habit that most babies have is banging their head, which is a major concern for most parents. However, based on the study made by the National Sleep Foundation, this is normal behavior for most babies when they are six months old and this can last until they reach childhood. Most babies do not stop this habit until they reach the age of five years old.
Although this kind of action might look dangerous for the baby, such repetitive movement helps the baby fall asleep and soothes them. This behavior eventually stops in most children when they are old enough to join kindergarten.
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Mental Health Issues Versus Late Bloomer
Children grow and develop into many shapes and sizes. As many people would say it takes all kinds. The same goes for children. Children develop at different paces even if they are from the same set of parents.
So your childs obsession with wheels may just be a piece of development. If your child is meeting all the milestones that your pediatrician has set, but later, it is going to be okay. Baby just might be a late bloomer. Most children who are late bloomers are that way across their life span.
So you may be looking at a twenty-year-old child who just gets a start in the world. And that is okay! Every child is different. So if your alarm is that your second child is not developing as quickly as the first, that is not concerning.
Every child is different. To read more on late-blooming children and the ways that wheels obsessions play, check out this post from BabyCenter.
Excitement And Hand Flapping
Have you ever seen someone get so excited that they cant help but throw their arms up and scream? Maybe youve been that person!
Now, Im not just talking about planned excitement, like hugging someone or doing the wave or something. Im talking about excitement that feels uncontrollable. One second, youre sitting quietly and the next moment someone throws a puppy in your lap or your long lost best friend walks through the door and you get overwhelmed with excitement. Without even realizing it, youre waving your hands, jumping around, and throwing an exuberant fit.;;
Aside from how fun these reactions are, our bodies actually need this tom foolery in order to stay regulated. To best explain, lets use the best teacher of allPixar.
In Monsters Inc, screams are collected as energy. The more screams each monster can collect, the more full their canister gets. In the prequel, Monsters University, one of the canisters becomes so full that it explodes. That scream energy has to go somewhere, right?
When we get excited, our sensory systems get overwhelmed. What do we do with all of this extra input and excitement? they ask.
Basically, the scream canisters of our sensory systems are bubbling over and the excitement needs to be let out however in whatever way possible.;
Hand flapping and arm flapping is a way to let the excitement out.
Recommended Reading: How Do They Test For Autism In Adults
Problems With Communication And Social Interaction
These can include:
- issues with communication, including difficulties sharing emotions, sharing interests, or maintaining a back-and-forth conversation
- issues with nonspeaking communication, such as trouble maintaining eye contact or reading body language
- difficulties developing and maintaining relationships
How Do I Know If My Child Is Showing Signs Of Autism
Symptoms of autism at any age fall into two categories: social communication skills and repetitive behaviors or interests. Symptoms can vary widely in severity and from individual to individual. Because autism is such a broad spectrum, assessments are made by taking multiple criteria into account, including the childs developmental history and observations of his or her behavior. The childs set of needs can then be matched to the appropriate set of services.
In young children, there are several key signs. If an 18-month-old child is consistently avoiding eye contact, theres a good chance that A.S.D. or another neurological disorder is at play. Another sign to look for before age 2 is a lack of social connection and engagement, Dr. Landa said. Pay attention to playtime: Children under 2 who express no interest in sharing or showing toys or insist on lining the toys up instead of playing with them should be evaluated. Another strong indicator in children this age is that they generally dont respond to their names.
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How Does Your Health Come Into Play
Researchers know that maternal health during pregnancy has an impact on the unborn child, and ASD is certainly no exception to this rule. “For instance, women who are severely ill and require hospitalization during pregnancy may be more likely to have children who develop autism,” says Dr. Wang. Specifically,;studies;have shown;associations between maternal infections during pregnancy and subsequent risk for their children developing an autism spectrum disorder.
In general, women should do what they can to remain healthy during pregnancy. “This includes optimizing nutrition, taking prenatal vitamins as recommended by their obstetrician, avoiding exposure to unnecessary drugs and medications, and ensuring that their own vaccinations are up to date,” says Dr. Wang. Also,;a recent study in the;Journal of the American Medical Association;found that gestational diabetes developed by 26 weeks is linked with an increased risk to ASD. Ask your doctor about the right plan for you and then stick with it.
A Guide To The Signs Of Autism In Infants
The key to any illness is early detection and intervention, and autism its no different.
Babies that fall on the autism spectrum will typically have a delay in their social ques, motor skills, verbal skills, and have what seems like odd reactions to certain things. Autistic infants may be difficult to soothe and may seem standoffish in the way they react to both you and others.;
The earlier the detection time, the better. Youll be able to prepare and adjust both your life and your childs to get them as close to normal life as possible for them. Its important to be mindful when watching your infants going through their various stages.
;Many children with autism show signs at a young age. But what are the signs?
Here is a guide to the signs of autism in infants.
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Alternative Sitting Options When You Find A Child W
I provide simple cues to the children I treat, usually by lightly tapping their leg. Some children require verbal prompting, such as, please rearrange/adjust your legs. Whatever the cue, its important to prevent the position from developing into a pattern to avoid bigger issues in the future. Follow these tips for alternative sitting options:
Lack Of Eye Contact Is One Of The Main Characteristics Of Autism In Toddlers
After dealing with the lack of eye contact for what I felt was way too long, I took it upon myself to do some research.
We all look for answers online when theres something wrong so I thought maybe I could figure something out on my own.
The very first search result when I typed why wont my baby make eye contact? popped up. I was startled to realize it is one of the main characteristics of autism and is a huge red flag.
Honestly I just cried. I didnt know for sure if he had autism, but I was sad that something could be wrong.
After my discovery I began noticing even more signs and characteristics he exhibited.
Also Check: What It’s Like To Have Autism
Experts Reveal The Truth About When To Worry About W Sitting
A few;years ago, I would have never thought twice about it, but now when I see a child in this position my whole body cringes. I fight every urge in my bones to say fix your legs, sweetie. I cant help it. Its engrained in me. Its in my blood. You see, my son struggled with core strength and commonly sat in the W position for many years. He wouldnt, no, he couldnt sit in any other position. Since our battle with W-sitting, Ive been in the middle of many discussions with people about the validity and importance of w-sitting. Boy, can these discussions get really heated! Thats why Ive invited some pediatric therapists to discuss the when to worry about;W sitting ;and share what you really should care about!
* This post may contain affiliate links for your convenience. Click here for my full disclosure.
While W-sitting is a common phrase for occupational, physical, and development therapists, there are a multitude of misconceptions regarding; this particular sitting position to those not familiar with it. ;
The 5 Easy Questions That Can Help Detect Autism
A baby brings hopes for a perfect life filled with baseball games, piano recitals, and tiny voices learning to say, “Mommy,” “Daddy, and, I love you.”
Sometimes, though, those voices never come.
A child may appear to be developing normally but when it comes time for the child to speak, parents are met with silence or meaningless babble.
It might not even occur to a parent that his or her child isn’t speaking at an appropriate age level until the child spends time with peers at daycare, preschool, or even kindergarten and isn’t able to communicate.
According to the Autism Society, one in 54;children has a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD. About one in six children have some kind of speech delay or impairment.
Oftentimes, children aren’t diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder until age four or five, but the child may begin showing signs by the time he or she is two.
That can be scary news for a parent to receive, but it certainly doesn’t mean anything is “wrong” with the child. It only means the parents will need to adjust their plans and expectations to include early intervention.
Think about that. There could be at least two to three years between showing signs of autism and receiving a diagnosis. That’s two to three years of therapy, at an age where early intervention can make a huge difference, that’s lost forever.
Perhaps most importantly, it’s helped countless parents hear the tiny voices of their children finally say, “I love you, Mommy.”
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Repetitive Or Restrictive Behaviors
An autistic child who has adopted certain repetitive or restrictive behaviors may exhibit some of these signs:
- performs repetitive motions, such as flapping their hands, rocking back and forth, or spinning
- persistently or repeatedly lines up toys or other objects in an organized fashion
- gets upset or frustrated by small changes in their daily routine
- has to follow certain routines
- plays with toys the same way every time
- likes certain parts of objects
- has obsessive interests
Hand Flapping: Should I Be Worried Does It Only Happen With Autism
As a parent, you have an Eagle eye for any new behavior that your child starts doing. If that behavior is hand flapping, youve come to the right place.
Hand flapping is a form of stimming that kids do to calm down, self-soothe, or regulate their bodies. Its common when kids are excited, nervous, anxious, or having any other type of high emotion state. It can also become a habit.;
Hand flapping or, arm flapping, has become one of the more popularly recognized signs of autism. As with any concept that becomes well known, we have to deal with both the positives and negatives of it.
We also have to deal with the confusion.
In one sense, its great that the potential signs of autism are becoming more widely known.
Three cheers for autism awareness!
In another sense, assuming that hand flapping=autism is too simplistic and ignores the nuances behind the behavior. In all the confusion, the #1 question becomes when should I worry?
So, youre a parent of a child and you see them starting to flap their hands. Given everything youve heard about hand flapping from the media and greater society, you start to panic.
What does this mean?
Lets dig in to what hand flapping is and whether your should be worried.
As we move forward, please keep in mind that this is general information and is not specific to your own kiddo. If you have any concerns or questions about your childs unique situation, please reach out to their pediatrician or occupational therapist.
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