Seeing your kids grow is a memorable event. While each child develops at their own pace, children with autism will have certain developmental delays. Some parents see indicators of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in their infants as early as 18 months of age, and possibly even earlier.
Here are some of the first indicators of autism in toddlers, as well as why early identification is so important for managing the condition.
What is autism?
ASD (autism spectrum disorder) is a developmental disorder which can be caused by several factors including brain development and genetic factors. People with ASD often struggle with social communication and interaction. It is important to remember that not all autistic children will have the same symptoms. The word “spectrum” indicates that there can be wide range of symptoms and severity. Some children may only require a little bit of help while others may need a lot of assistance in doing and learning everyday stuff.
Early symptoms of autism in toddlers
Autism symptoms in young children include:
- Avoiding eye contact and not responding when someone calls their name
- They don’t smile back when someone grins at them
- They get agitated if they don’t like a certain flavour, smell, or sound
- They do repetitive actions like flapping their hands, flicking fingers, or continuously rocking their bodies
- They don’t talk as much as other kids and say the same things over and over.
- When toys or other objects are arranged in a line, they become irritated if the order is disrupted
- Every time they play with toys, they do so in the same way
- Unexpected reactions to the sounds, smells, tastes, looks, or feels of objects
- Minor changes irritate them
Some developmental issues you may notice in an autistic child are:
- Language skills that have been delayed
- Skills in delaying movement
- Cognitive or learning skills are delayed
- Out-of-the-ordinary mood swings or emotional responses
- Fearlessness or greater than expected fear
- Epilepsy or seizures
- Unusual sleeping and eating patterns
Autism in girls and boys can differ at times. Autistic girls are quieter, they hide their emotions, and they seem to function better in social circumstances. This makes detecting autism in girls quite difficult.
What to do if you see signs of autism in your kid?
Don’t wait to seek help if you see any of the early indicators of autism in your infant, toddler, or pre-schooler. Check in with your child’s paediatrician if your child is having trouble fitting in and his differences are impacting his life, or if you have a nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right.
What to do if your child has autism?
For parents, it can be quite a shock at first to know that their child has autism, and they often wonder what is next. How to support their little one?
While it is true that autism isn’t something that your child will “grow out of”, there are several treatments and therapies that can help your child overcome the challenges of the disorder. The first thing parents need to do is research and learn more about autism to avoid believing in stereotypes and misconceptions about the condition. But make sure you learn about it from verified sources and research backed facts. Your health provider will be able to assist you with this. Educate yourself, keep asking questions and actively participate in treatments.
Treatment options can include a variety of things, from in-home behavioural therapy to school-based programs or even free government services. To meet your child’s special needs, assistance is available and, with proper care and support, your child will be able to learn and thrive.
It is important for parents to remember that their child is unique, no matter what. Try not to jump to conclusions once you get the diagnosis. People with autism can also learn and develop abilities like everyone else. Instead of focusing on how your child is different, accept their quirks, celebrate when they succeed at doing something, even if it is small. The best thing you can do is to make your kid feel unconditionally loved and supported.
While taking care of an autistic child, parents also need to focus on their own health as being emotionally strong will help them be the best parent for their child.