During early childhood, it becomes difficult to detect the symptoms of mild autism. This article enunciates the indicators that define mild autism in children.
Autistic spectrum disorders (ASD)is a set of complex multifactorial disorders characterized by altered neural development. These include:
- autism (classical autism)
- Asperger syndrome
- Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)
- Rett’s disorder (Rett syndrome)
- Childhood disintegrative disorder
The symptoms of autism begin to manifest during infancy and early childhood, but it is hard to diagnose autism before 24 months. Given below are the signs and symptoms that may indicate the presence of mild autism in early infancy. Symptoms and warning signs that should be considered as red flags and reported to the appropriate professional, have also been provided.
Signs in Infants and Pre-school Children
Autistic children show a tendency to be unaware of the incidences and people around them, and tend to get lost in their own world. These children generally exhibit a delay in developmental traits like learning to talk, play and interact with others. Some of the commonly observed signs that may indicate autism are as follows.
» The child shows limited eye contact or completely avoids it (gaze aversion), and may also fail to follow your gaze or look at objects pointed out to by you.
» The child does not respond to his or her name, or does not familiarize with your voice and may not respond to it, or to any other routine sounds around him/her.
» Generally, normal children will babble and smile at you while talking to them. Autistic children will continue to be preoccupied with the activity they are engaged in, and will not show any response. They tend to be extremely engrossed in playing with a toy, or staring blankly at something, and remain oblivious to the surroundings.
» The child will not show gestures like waving, pointing, tugging or playing with your garments, hands, etc., which normal babies usually engage in. The child may even resist cuddling and holding.
» Autistic children may show unusual sensitivity to light, touch or loud noises, but may show less sensitivity to pain.
The following developmental aspects must be considered as warning signs, and demand immediate medical or professional consultation.
- Absence of smiles, and happy expressions by 6 months.
- No mimicry of facial expression and sounds by 9 months.
- No babbling and baby talk for 12 months.
- Lack of gestures like waving and pointing by 12 months.
- No spoken words till the age of 16 months.
- No two-word phrases by 24 months.
Signs in Early Childhood
» Repetitive behavior: Actions like licking fingers, rocking back and forth, tapping the feet, flapping hands, etc., are performed in a repetitive manner. They may speak repetitively, or repeat only a certain set of words without understanding the meaning or interpretation. They tend to develop routines, and get upset when this routine is disturbed, resulting in violent self-harming activities like banging their head, or biting themselves.
» Delayed language development: Most children can begin constructing two-word sentences by the time they are two years old, which is not the case with autistic children. They develop this ability very late, or do not speak at all. In some cases, children may learn to speak, but the ability is lost after a few months. Moreover, they may speak in abnormal rhythms and tones. They show difficulty in following simple verbal directions, but are better at following visual instructions. While constructing sentences, they may refer to themselves with their name, rather than using first person pronoun to refer to themselves.
There is no cure for this disorder, however an early diagnosis is crucial to adapt several educational and behavioral therapies to pay special attention, and develop the child’s language and social skills. These may include speech and language therapy, therapies to improve cognitive skills, etc.
Certain medications may be prescribed to control anxiety and depression, however it is subject to the precise condition as well as age. In addition, autistic children may experience other medical conditions like sleep disorders, epilepsy as well gastric problems. These may be taken care of through medication.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.