One in every 150 children born in America is autistic. Though, statistics show that it is one of the fastest growing mental disorders, many still don’t know how to recognize the early signs of autism in infants, which signifies a worst case scenario. Recognizing the symptoms may therefore, be the best way out, as there’s no cure for autism.
Autism is a brain development disorder which causes problems in social interaction, communication and general behavior of the affected child. The early signs of autism can be observed as early as six months of age. In many cases, children may not show visible signs in infancy and start deteriorating later. This means that a child growing normally to the age of one, may show signs of autism with the onset of toddlerhood.
Signs of Autism in Infants, Toddlers and Children
Normally, parents observe the signs in the first two years of the child’s life. It is very rare that parents may miss out these signs. The probability of these children living an ordinary life is one in hundreds. With proper guidance and care, these children can be helped to cope with the symptoms. With autistic children, it is necessary to direct their obsession (for a color, object or a puzzle game) in a positive way, so as to get some beneficial results. Learning, for them, is a herculean task. So, an appropriate diagnosis followed by proper guidance, can be effective in overcoming the symptoms to an extent.
Early autism signs in infants are difficult to track. At this age, it is diagnosed mostly based on the parents’ observation of developmental delays. These days, parents very well know the time limit by which the child has to start to do activities like crawling, using basic words, etc. Hence, usually it is the parent’s complaint that triggers the suspicion. Common delays observed by parents as signs of autism, in infants are:
- Decreased activity level at six months
- Extremely irritable mood
- Obsessive behavior related to objects
- Lack of facial expression
- Infrequent eye contact
- Less or no smiling response
- Abrupt changes in facial expressions
It is likely that parents and other caregivers may miss the early signs of autism. But, as children grow, the signs of autism become more apparent. These signs are hard to miss and need immediate attention, so as to tackle the problem in the best possible manner. The early signs of autism in toddlers are:
- Delay in learning to talk
- Unusual obsession with objects, like a toy or even the wheel of a toy
- Stereotyped behavior, like tapping an object, rocking the body and sometimes, even banging the head on a wall
- Obsession with routines, wanting to eat the same food, do everyday things in a particular order, etc.
- Failure to interact with children of the same age group
- Doesn’t like being held or hugged
- Staring at a single object for hours
- Using hand movements to communicate, rather than words
- Doing the same things repeatedly like going around in swirls, repeating words, running around the room continuously, etc.
- Failure to look in the direction of a sound
- General disorientation
The symptoms and signs of autism in children are similar to that in toddlers, though some other signs may be evident as the child grows. Normally, children are expected to achieve learning milestones. One of the common signs of autism or any other autism spectrum disorders is learning disabilities. Therefore, the signs that are prominent in children, other than the ones described above are:
- Difficulty in learning a language
- Inappropriate and sometimes, incomplete responses to situations and people
- Inability to make friends
- Emotionless towards most people, including the immediate family
- Insensitivity to pain
- Lack sense of safety, therefore harm themselves very often
- Impulsive behavior
- Strange speech patterns
- Extreme responses towards light and sound
It is very easy to observe that an autistic child is obsessed about something. Sometimes, when this obsession is with something like a subject like math, chemistry, etc., or a particular activity like solving puzzles, remembering numbers, etc., the autistic child may turn out to be exceptionally talented. This extraordinary proficiency in one or more areas, found in autistic children, is known as Savant syndrome. So, parents and the caregivers have to note the existence of such skills in an autistic child. Once done so, it is always good to encourage the child. Many a time, this may ensure the child, a meaningful life.
Indicants that Ought to Drive You to the Doctor
Towards the age of 6 months : No delightful expressions, no smiles
Towards the age of 9 months : Absence of repetition of expressions or sounds of any sort, facial expressions missing
Towards the age of 1 year : No response to name, no baby sounds, no motioning towards any object, waving out, etc.
Autism may be a disorder that doesn’t have a cure, but an autistic child definitely does have hope. With patience and knowledge of signs of autism, you can steer the future of an autistic child. Handling and teaching children with autism may seem a difficult task, but it is not impossible.