Autism spectrum disorder, simply known as autism, is a neurodevelopment disorder that affects brain function. People with autism have a wide range of impairments causing social, communication and behavioural challenges. Autism is most likely to occur if there’s a history in your family or if you have your first child at an older age.
Being diagnosed with autism during the formative years makes it easy to manage the disease and lead a normal life. However, it’s not always easy to tell whether a child is autistic or not since there are no tests. This is why some people get diagnosed as adults. There are some signs you can look out for to tell whether your child has autism. Normally, children start to show signs of autism from 12 months to 18 months. If they are exhibiting symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately. Here are some of the symptoms you should look out for.
Normally, children start babbling at 6 months old and say their first words by 10 to 15 months old. They then gradually start to pick up more words and their speech goes from baby talk to real language. You should hear your baby saying short phrases by age 2. If your child can barely say any words at this age, it could be a sign of a developmental issue that should be checked out immediately.
People suffering from autism often display repetitive behaviour such as rocking, twirling objects or gazing. However, this behaviour is not unique to people with autism. It’s also common to individuals with other sensory, intellectual, or developmental disabilities. Research indicates that a majority of people with mental illnesses display repetitive behaviours. However, it’s more severe in people with autism than others.
Don’t be quick to dismiss your child’s lack of social skills as shyness. Normally, even shy kids come out of their shells and play with other children. However, autistic children have little to no interest in toys or other kids around them. When they do show interest, you may notice that your child plays a little differently than the others. For instance, they may focus on small details of a toy such as the will and choose to play with it only.
Apart from a lack of interest in socializing, autistic people tend to be more aggressive towards others and themselves. The Center for Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) states that one out of every four children with autism struggles with aggressive behaviours. They usually lash out in anger when they’re unable to express themselves. Since people with autism like routine and things done a certain way, it’s easy for them to get frustrated and angry. This can be managed through counselling and therapy.
Declining Eye Contact
Eye contact is essential in communication as it helps read facial expressions. It also helps others like and respects you which helps build relationships. Babies can make eye contact and locate faces by 2 months old. This helps them gain information about their surroundings and also form relationships. Sources have found that babies with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) make less eye contact at around 2 months. This decline in eye contact may be an early indicator of autism that should not be ignored.
Limited Facial Expressions
People love to make facial expressions at children to get a response from them. By 4 months old, babies can copy facial expressions and by 6 months, they are able to recognize and respond to them. However, this is not the case for autistic children. Whether happy, sad, angry or surprised, babies with autism find it difficult to make facial expressions that communicate their feelings or even mimic those of others. They may not be able to respond when someone smiles at them and when they respond, they may make an inappropriate facial expression.
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