People say my child is different. Is my child autistic? Understanding if your baby or infant has autism at an early age will significantly impact his life. Early diagnosis means early intervention.
Autism signs can be manifested even in babies. These signs may come in the form of developmental delays and behavioral patterns. Children with ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder show distinct differences with their peers, usually on their social and language skills.
During the early stages, less than 12 months of age, autistic babies may have the same milestone as their peers. But, come 12 to 18 months, you can detect early signs of autism. Thus, parents have to monitor their child’s progress and seek professional help if they find 3 or more symptoms on this list.
Here are 5 early signs of autism
Not Responding When Called
At 12 months, babies would typically turn their heads when their names are called. But if your baby or toddler doesn’t respond to your call but would turn their head for other sounds, this is a red flag for autism. And when they do turn around, often, they can’t maintain eye contact with another person.
Repetitive and Obsessive behaviors
Children with autism have an inclination to repeat certain activities, such as rocking, spinning, flapping hands, called stimming. They are unable to express their emotions and energy and use these activities to vent out all those pent up energies in their system.
Kids under the spectrum, also like routines and have difficulty adapting to changes. They keep a tab of the order of their activities. Any disruption, like surprises in the middle of the day, results in a meltdown.
They also develop obsessions on certain things or activities such as watching a specific show or listening to one music. That they’ll continuously listen to or watch the same thing the whole day. Sometimes, it can also be on a specific object like a blue-colored plate or cup. Suppose you take away or change the object. In that case, they’ll immediately notice the difference. They can lead to the child screaming or crying, demanding for the same object.
Lack of Facial Expressions
Children always have animated expressions. They try to mimic the facial expressions of their favorite character on TV or books. However, for a child with autism, you’ll often see blank expressions. Mainly because they do not understand facial social cues themselves.
Often, you’d see these kids observing someone else’s expression, especially if it’s new to them, because of their lack of awareness of facial expressions. For autistic toddlers, it is beneficial to show them pictures of various emotions to differentiate one from the other. Even if they find it challenging to mimic it themselves, they would be able to identify these expressions from others.
A child with autism can be sensitive to sound, taste, texture, smell, or lights. It is such a broad spectrum that no child has the same sensitivity to various senses around them. Some toddlers might find loud music unbearable. While others might not like the smell of grandma’s perfume. Or, wants to stick to one type of food and dislike everything else.
Parents have to thoroughly monitor their child if they act differently from others. Their sensory issues can be manifested in flapping their hands, covering their eyes, crying without an explanation, or even banging their heads. Especially if your child goes to the extreme of hurting others or themselves because they are unable to express their annoyance, you have to immediately seek your pediatrician’s help.
Milestones are the best way to identify if a toddler is delayed or not. Although, you also have to give leeway as children have different benchmarks. There are sure signs that are considered red flags in identifying if your kids may have autism. Communication delay is one of the things you have to look into.
Toddlers who are 12 to 16 months of age normally can speak single words. However, a child with autism may not utter a single word even at the age of two. But not being able to speak up until 2 can be considered a delay or perhaps a sign of nonverbal autism.
At the extreme, they might be able to memorize every single letter in the alphabet or nursery book at 2� years old. But would still find it difficult to form sentences using the words they know to express their needs or thoughts.
Diagnosing the early signs of autism will help parents find interventions during the first crucial years of a child’s life. Remember that a child with autism may be different, but it doesn’t mean they are anything less. Medical practitioners may help in the early intervention of the child, so they can function independently. But it’s the love of the parents that can mold them into the best versions of themselves.