Early identification of autism in children

Are you a parent who had recently found out that your child comes under the autism spectrum? Do you suspect that your child is autistic? Have you stumbled across this article while searching for some information about autism and its management? Then you have come to the right place. Let me brief you about what is autism and how to know if your kid is autistic or not.

Diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder

You should first understand that autism is NOT A DISEASE and you don’t have to worry about it. There is a big hullabaloo over the internet about autism and you must know that all the information you come across is not true. Only a few websites and blogs are created to spread awareness about autism, while many of them are intended to scare you and make you a victim of many industries that make a huge profit out of the people’s ignorance about autism.

How to identify whether your kid is autistic or not

Autism is a developmental disorder (don’t get scared by the word ‘developmental disorder’) and the autistic child may be much advanced in some aspects of growth (like high intelligence) and delayed in some other aspects (like speech delay, delay in walking), when compared to the other kids of his/her age. If you observe one or more of the below-listed signs in your kid then you should definitely take him/her to a pediatric neurologist to confirm whether he/she is autistic or not.

Signs during infancy (0 to 1 year)

  1. Delayed social smile – Infants develop social smile (smiling in response to others smile) within first 4 months of their life. Some may develop it as early as 2nd month while other infants develop it by the 3rd or 4th month.
  2. Baby doesn’t make any sounds like cooing and babbling (what you call as baby sounds) to attract your attention.
  3. Baby doesn’t respond to you by looking at you or doesn’t make the gestures of excitement when you play with him/her. (Babies more than 5 months of age would definitely get excited and respond to you when you shake a rattle or play with other toys)
  4. Baby appearing uninterested in surroundings. (Infants start noticing things around them as early as 5 months of age and they get excited when they see a bird, a dog etc. kids falling under the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) doesn’t exhibit such a behavior.
  5. Some infants don’t respond when you cuddle them or when you extend your arms to lift them up.

Symptoms in toddlers        

  1. Doesn’t respond to his/her name when called
  2. Doesn’t use gestures to communicate. This is the main difference between late talkers and kids with autism. A late talker would use various gestures to communicate with you but an autistic child would take you to the object they want (like if she/he wants to eat an apple, she/he would take you to the place where it is kept while a late taker would point to it).
  3. Doesn’t bring to you or hold up to show you the drawing he/she had done or the figure he/she had made using the building blocks.
  4. Arrange his/her toys in a line instead of playing with it.
  5. Doesn’t wave bye to you/others when you wave to him/her
  6. Speech delay. Here is where again the confusion arises between the late talkers and kids with autism. A late talker will utter at least words like mom, dad, grandma, grandpa etc. while the autistic kid might not.
  7. They won’t mingle with other kids
  8. The absence of pretend play. (Like dressing up like mom/dad and going to shop/office etc.)
  9. Playing with their own images (shadows, mirror image) for prolonged time
  10. Playing alone for a prolonged time.
  11. May have hyperactivity
  12. There might be problems with physical and mental growth (like inability to do certain activities because of muscle spasm, mental retardation etc.)

Sensory issues like extreme sensitivity to some particular sounds, touch etc. might also be present.

Red flags to find autism in kids

Autistic kids are unique just like the normal kids and hence no two kids with ASD are alike. All the above symptoms may or may not appear in every autistic kid. But these red flag symptoms are common among them

  • Not responding when they are called by their names(make sure that they are familiar with the name you call and that he/she has no problem with the hearing before deciding that it’s because of autism).
  • Gradual loss of words and normal behaviors (that they had learned during infancy) by 1 to 2 years
  • Absence of pointing (taking you to objects and place instead of pointing)
  • Flapping of hands
  • Speech delay,
  • The absence of pretend play and socialization with peers.

Please don’t get tensed or worried after reading this or if you identify such symptoms in your kid. This is just meant to guide to identify autism as early as possible.  AUTISM IS NOT AS BAD AS IT APPEARS IN THE INTERNET AND BOOKS. You can easily manage it.  I will discuss managing autistic kids in my next article.

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