Autism in Children: 30 Warning Signs That My Child May Be Autistic
With recent new numbers on autism stating that it affects 1 out of every 91 people, we might want to pay close attention to our children’s developmental milestones since early intervention can lead to an excellent long-term outcome in many cases.
What is autism?
For a lot of us, the only example of autism we know is from the movie Rain Man which was a story about a grown man who had extreme autism. But, this isn’t always the norm. Autism is a complex developmental disability. It creates problems with communications and social interactions. Though, autism can be extreme as the movie portrays, typically children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder which is a vast array of symptoms ranging from very mild symptoms which is usually the case in Asperger syndrome to more severe pervasive developmental disorders such as a rarer form of autism called Rett syndrome which is a devastating disorder where a child can actually start off appearing quite normal as an infant and then begin to lose neurological development.
Asperger Syndrome children can grow to live highly productive lives. Many Asperger Syndrome children may even blend in among their peers without being noticed as anything abnormal unless a caregiver is looking for signs. Since the spectrum is wide, a child with Asperger Syndrome may even go undiagnosed if his symptoms are looked at as just strange annoyances. At this realm of the autism spectrum, an intelligence that quite often is normal or higher than average is exhibited, while the child will exhibit an obsessive interest in one, specific item or subject manner to the extreme of tuning out or ignoring all other conversation or things around them. They will typically have sensory issues with extreme sensitivity to light, textures, noises (sound) and/or tastes. Most Asperger children have good vocabulary skills but will probably have great difficulty understanding body language or words that are not literal.
So, how do I know if my child has autism – What are the warning signs?
Though, developmental milestones vary, autism typically involves problems with communication (both verbal and non-verbal) and social interactions as well as behaviors involving repetition and routines.
In many cases, the parent or caregiver will start to notice symptoms of autism by approximately 18 months of age if not sooner.
While autism is not specific or more prevalent among any one particular group of people, boys are three to four times more likely than girls to have signs of autism with new statistics showing that 1 out of every 58 boys are affected by autism. Though sisters and brothers of a child diagnosed with autism are more likely to be affected than those who do not have a sibling with autism.
Here are some things to look for as warning signs that your child may have autism. Though, don’t use this as a simple checklist. Use it as a guideline to raise the issue with your health care provider who will do further tests to confirm whether or not your child is autistic. Most of these warning signs can begin to be observed by 18 months of age – some earlier.
- Child does not return a smile by approximately 6 months of age
- Child does not exchange sounds or facial expressions by 9 months of age
- Does not babble or coo by 12 months of age
- Child does not wave hello or goodbye by 12 months of age
- Child does not say single words by 16 months of age
- Child does not say two-word self-initiated sentences by 24 months of age such as (want food)
- Child seems unable to speak in order to tell you his/her needs. Instead, they lead you by the hand to get what they want or they help themselves to whatever they need
- Child’s language skills develop slowly or they have delayed speech
- Child used to babble, coo or say words and no longer does
- Child displays any loss of any verbal or social skill that they once had
- Child does not respond to his or her name
- Sometimes, child seems to not hear and/or seems to tune people or noises out
- Child does not use gestures or point to communicate wants, needs or discoveries
- Child does not follow simple directions
- When you or someone smiles at child, child does not return smile
- Can’t get eye contact with child
- Child prefers to play alone and/or is not interested in other children
- Child seems to be oblivious of surroundings or in his/her own little world
- Child does things earlier than his/her peers
- Child is overly independent for his/her age
- Child throws extreme tantrums
- Child is overactive
- Child is uncooperative
- Child does not know how to play with toys and/or shows extreme attachment to toys that are hard and not cuddly
- Child lines toys up or puts them in a particular order instead of playing with them in a usual way
- Child does not enjoy make believe type of play by approximately age 3
- Child’s movements are out of the ordinary
- Child walks on toes
- Child does the same thing over and over and then has difficulty transitioning to a new activity
- Child displays an unusual need to follow the same order or schedule such as always having to put on a shirt before pants or insisting on his/her plate being placed specifically next to a fork at a certain angle, etc.
A child does not need to display all 30 signs and symptoms to have them checked out. Even if your child only does one of the items listed, but as a parent you just feel like something is not right, have them evaluated for autism since early treatment can have great outcomes.