Early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may show developmental differences as early as when they are babies. These differences can be noticed in areas such as language and social skills. Since they usually sit, crawl, and walk on time, less obvious differences such as development of gesture, pretend play, and social language may go unnoticed.
It must be noted that all children with ASD will not have exactly the same symptoms. These can vary greatly. Here are some early signs of autism spectrum disorder that you may need to watch out for:
- Very little or no eye contact
- Doesn’t respond to a parent’s smile or other facial expressions
- Doesn’t look at objects or events a parent is looking at or pointing to
- Doesn’t point to objects or events to get a parent to look at them
- Doesn’t bring objects of personal interest to show to a parent
- Doesn’t often have appropriate facial expressions
- Unable to perceive what others might be thinking or feeling by looking at their facial expressions
- No concern or empathy for others
- Doesn’t make friends or uninterested in making friends
- Doesn’t point at things to indicate needs or share things with others
- Doesn’t say single words by 16 months
- Repeats exactly what others say without understanding the meaning
- Doesn’t respond to name being called but responds to other sounds
- Refers to self as “you” and others as “I” and may mix up pronouns
- Often doesn’t seem to want to communicate
- Doesn’t start or can’t continue a conversation
- Doesn’t use toys or other objects to represent people or real life in pretend play
- May lose language or other social milestones, usually between the ages of 15 and 24 months
- Rocks, spins, sways, twirls fingers, walks on toes for a long time, or flaps hands
- Likes routines, order and rituals; has difficulty with change
- Obsessed with a few or unusual activities, doing them repeatedly during the day
- Plays with parts of toys, instead of the whole toy
- May be very sensitive or not sensitive at all to smells, sounds, lights, textures, and touch
- Unusual use of vision or gaze
Signs to distinguish a child with Autism from the rest
Here are some potential signs that can help parents identify the early signs of autism:
- At 12 months of age, a child with typical development will turn his head when he hears his name. A child with ASD might not turn to look, even after his name is repeated several times, but will respond to other sounds.
- At 18 months, a child with delayed speech skills will point, gesture, or use facial expressions to make up for her lack of talking. A child with ASD may not many any such attempts to compensate for delayed speech, or might limit speech to parroting whatever she hears.
- At 24 months, a child with typical development brings a picture to show his mother and shares his joy with her. A child with ASD might bring her a bottle of bubbles to open, but he does not look at his mom’s face when she does or share in the pleasure of playing together.
If you have any concerns about how your child plays, learns, speaks, acts, or moves, talk to your pediatrician. Always remember that you know your child best and your concerns are important. Together, you and your pediatrician will find the best way to help your child. If you’re uneasy about the doctor’s advice, seek a second opinion. Acting early can make a big difference.