As the number of children being diagnosed with Autism increases, the need for public awareness involving correct identification of the early symptoms of Autism becomes imperative.
New parents should become familiar with these signs so that if necessary, early intervention and support can have significant benefits for their young child in the future. Early detection is vital to learning how to teach a child with Autism. Mothers often find it easier to believe their child is moving at their own pace when milestones are not met, but it should be recognized as a possible symptom of Autism to be safe. If you are concerned about your child not meeting milestones, have them checked out by a physician to be sure.
1) Babies should usually be smiling by the time they are 6 months old. This involves a true happy smile, not a gas smile.
2) By 10 months, infants should be attempting to mimic facial expressions, words, and vocal intonations in some way. Typically developing babies try to mirror what their parents and other people are doing.
3) By 12 months, a lack of response to their name by a familiar voice may be an early sign of Autism. Typically developing children usually babble or “baby talk” by 12 months. Also, by 12 months, children should be making back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving.
4) A common way to recognize early symptoms of Autism is if your child is not speaking by the age of 2. At least a few words in their vocabulary are typical for children by this age. If your child is 2 years old and not talking at all, make an appointment with your pediatrician.
While some children do not display all of the symptoms of Autism, if you are in any way concerned due to recognizing ANY of the early symptoms, seek out professional help and get the proper testing done to help rule in or out Autism.
There are other early signs that you should be aware of as a parent. If your child does not respond to their name or at times seems to be hearing impaired, you may have reason to be concerned. Poor eye contact and lack of smiling or joyful interactions are something to watch for. Many children on the Autism spectrum tend to be attached to one particular toy or object; in addition, they don’t seem to know how to play appropriately with toys. While many young children love to line up toys, such lining up cars for a race, excessive or obsessive lining up of toys can be a sign. Watch for your child not using any types of gestures or pointing to communicate and if your child never waves goodbye. Many children with autism either love or hate sensory stimulation, such as cuddling, bathing, wearing clothes/shoes, or any type of texture play, such as playing in water or mud. Finally, if your child has difficulty eating a variety of textures or refuses to eat certain types of food, such as mushy foods, talk to your physician.
Overall, the best method for early detection of Autism involves monitoring your child’s development. Take action if you are at all concerned. Don’t accept a “wait-and-see” approach, the earlier the better. Early Intervention is critical to your child’s development. Mostly, trust your instincts; no one knows your child as well as you do. If you feel like your child is developmentally delayed, there is no harm in seeking professional advice.
Katie Zink is a graduate of Catawba College and serves as a CBRS therapist for Partners In Learning. Prior to her role as a therapist, Katie served as a teacher beginning in 2009. Working with children is her life’s passion.