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I try not to talk about topics I know very little about, but recently, I was talking to a friend of mine about how she came to identify the signs of possible autism in her daughter. That got me thinking and doing a little bit of research. I am amazed at how easily autism can be
Autism is a common disorder that can result in difficulties communicating, difficulties relating to the world around oneself, and repetitive behaviors. It can vary widely in severity – those with mild autism can live relatively normal lives, while those with more profound autism may require lifelong care.
Autism is something that you are born with. Most parents will notice it in their children when they are very young, but in cases of mild autism, signs may not become clear until much later.
Identify The Signs of Possible Autism In Your Child
Getting a diagnosis can be useful so that you can provide the best care for your child. Below are just some of the signs of autism and what to do if your child has ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder).
Signs of autism in babies and toddlers
Catching signs early can be useful for helping your child’s development. With professional support, you may be able to learn to establish good habits early.
That said, such signs are not always obvious. If an infant is quiet, independent, and undemanding, they may just be viewed as a ‘good baby’, when in fact it could be the result of autism.
A few signs of Possible Autism in Infants & Toddlers could be:
- Not responding to their name
- Not maintaining eye contact
- Not smiling when smiled at
- Not following one’s finger when pointing
- Not reaching out to be picked up or cuddling back when cuddled
- Not wanting to play with other children
- No attempts to make gestures or speak meaningful words by the age of 16 months
Signs of Possible Autism in Older Children
Sometimes signs of possible autism are not spotted until a child is a little older, especially in case of mild autism. Below are a few signs that an older child may have autism:
- Has difficulty playing with others and making friends
- Does not notice when you call their name
- Does not play pretend games or use imagination when playing
- Repeats words over and over again without wanting to express meaning
- Uses odd intonation when speaking such as phrasing each sentence like a question
- Has trouble talking about feeling or expressing desires
- Avoids eye contact and uses few gestures (i.e. no pointing or waving)
- Pick up strange routines and may become obsessed with odd things such as light switches or rubber bands
- Displays oversensitivity to certain smells, sounds, lights, or changes in routine. This could include getting distressed and having autistic meltdowns.
How to get an official diagnosis
To get an official diagnosis, your child will need to complete an autism assessment. This is carried out by an autism specialist. You will usually need to get a referral from a doctor or a health advisor after discussing with them that you believe that your child may possibly be autistic. The easiest way to do this is to visit your doctor with your child and explain any symptoms that you’ve witnessed. It could be worth writing them down in a journal.
During the possible autism assessment, your child will be monitored by a specialist. The specialist may ask you a series of questions, as well as asking to speak to other people such as family members, doctors, or teachers. You will then be given a report that tells you if your child is autistic or not.
Some children require a repeat assessment, so do not despair if at first they are not diagnosed. This is most likely to be the case with mild symptoms.
What should I do if my child is autistic?
An official diagnosis can have many benefits. It could firstly confirm for you that your child does in fact have a disorder and is not just a difficult child. You can also begin to seek out the support that you may need for your child such as professional support and financial benefits.
There may even be specialist schools that you can take your child to. Alternatively, you may prefer them to attend a normal school, but to receive the help of a special education assistant.
There is lots of advice out there that you can look into when it comes to caring for a child with autism. This could include books, blogs, and in-person advice. Such advice could help you to train your child to develop social skills. You may also be able to learn tips on how to diffuse meltdowns and how to deal with rigid routines. Make the most of the support that is out there.
Can autism be treated?
There is no cure for autism. This is because autism is not an illness – it is simply a different way of thinking. Those that are born with autism have it their whole life.
That said, you can still treat autism by helping those with this disorder to develop social cues and habits that allow them to interact in a normal way.
ABA therapy is a common form of therapy that can help children with autism to eliminate problem behaviors and develop new communicative skills. It often involves teaching behaviors in certain situations by then setting rewards. You can find more information about it online.
Some autistic children may also benefit from speech therapy, family therapy or occupational therapy to help build added social skills.
What to expect as your child grows up
You should expect challenges as your child reaches adolescence. Social situations are likely to become more complex and there could be issues of bullying. Your child may also have difficulties understanding body changes and the added hormones could result in more meltdowns.
By continuing to be supportive and by getting the professional help you need, you can get through these teenage years and help your child to transition into an independent adult. Your child may continue to require some level of support into adulthood – especially if their symptoms are severe. However, with mild symptoms, you may find that your child is able to thrive on their own.