WHAT ARE THE EARLY SIGNS OF AUTISM?
Autism is a condition that effects around one in every seven hundred people. Most parents want to detect the early signs of autism as soon as possible, in order to get them the support they need in the quickest possible time.
Maybe you noticed some behaviour in your young child that you think is not normal?
Whatever the reason, this article aims to spell out the signs that you should look for to get an idea whether your child has autism.
Bear in mind that autism is on a broad spectrum, and some forms are more severe than others.
If in doubt, it is always best to contact a professional. This article is just aimed to be an early guide for parents.
The other thing to say is not to worry. The fact you are reading this article means that you are a responsible and committed parent. Even if you do diagnose autism in your child, there is a wealth of support that you can provide them.
I recently reviewed a great parenting course that aims to support parents with autistic children. There are many organisations, such as the National Autistic Society in the United Kingdom, that can offer great resources and advice too.
A child with autism has a brain that is “wired” in a different way to ours. This means, that they might see or appreciate the world around them in a different way.
Key Ways to Highlight Autism in a Child.
A slight disclaimer here first. Please remember every child is different and you may think that a “quirk” in your child’s character is a sign of autism. If you are unsure, consult an expert! Usually, you would expect to see more than one of the traits below present.
You can notice the signs of autism from as young as 18 months to 3 years old. Although, it can be less accurate or harder to detect with a very young child.
* Eye contact – If your child struggles to keep eye contact with you during conversations, this could be one factor to consider. This could also include an apparent lack of focus on a particular subject matter.
* Social Interactions with other kids – Often, a child with autism sees the world in a different way to other children. You will often notice that their social interactions with other children are awkward or out of sync.
* Apparent lack of imagination – For some children with autism, it is harder for them to differentiate between the real and make believe world. In fact, anything which is slightly abstract and not physically present can confuse an autistic child. For example, maybe they can solve a math problem with hands on blocks well. But if you show them a worksheet of the same activity, they possibly won’t show any understanding. Moving the activity to a more abstract form is hard for the child to grasp.
*Communication – Does your child communicate with others in a smooth and natural way? An autistic child sometimes finds it hard to take part in a well constructed two way conversation. They may ignore your questions and talk about what interests them, for example.
* Repeating language and/or behaviours – Alongside un-natural communication, you may also find your child repeating what they hear others saying rather than making their own sentence. You might also find that body movements or mannerisms could show repetitive behaviours in an autistic child.
*Inflexibility –Routine is often a very important part of an autistic child’s life. They might get upset or confused when this routine is changed. This apparent inflexibility to changes in their environment could provide a sign.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO NOTICE AUTISM IN BABIES?
As I stated earlier, it can be tricky or inaccurate to try and recognise autism in babies. Often, if you have a feeling that your baby might be presenting autistic tendencies, you should wait until they are slightly older to make sure and get a proper assessment from a professional.
As a general rule, if your baby doesn't show the willingness to make eye contact, this can still be a signal. Especially if you see they are fascinated and can stare for hours at random objects or moving parts.
If your baby doesn't present a lot of emotion. If they can lie down for hours without crying, this could be another signal.Most importantly, if your baby doesn't seem to show a natural interest in connecting and interacting with others, you should keep an eye on this. If they don't make any attempt to interact with other babies, for example.I hope this short article has helped you on the path to deciding whether your child has autism or not. I have seen a lot of parents in my professional life that have gone through this process too. The most important thing is to stay as positive as possible, no matter what the outcome. If you do diagnose your child with autism they can still have a full and prosperous life!
As long as you don’t try and deny that a problem exists and tackle it head on. Get your child all the professional help and support they need. Educate yourself to provide the best possible support at home too.
As I stated at the start of this review, I recently reviewed an excellent parenting course focused on helping autistic children. This course is called “Parent Power – Real World Training” and would provide you with a great starting point.
If you have any experiences with an autistic child, we would love to hear all about it in the comments section below!