If your child or relative receives a diagnosis of autism, you would probably be baffled or overwhelmed, as it is never easy to learn that someone you love has a serious health or developmental condition.
Learning all about the disorder and where to get help will ease your fear and confusion. It can also provide the tools you need to find the support that children with autism really need.
First, what is autism? According to HelpGuide, Autism is a spectrum of closely related disorders with a shared core of symptoms. It appears in infancy and early childhood, causing delays in many basic areas of development, such as learning to talk, play, and interact with others.
How do you know if a child has autism? What are the signs you need to look out for?
It is important to note that the symptoms begin in early childhood and some may even go unnoticed.
Autism usually appears before the child is 3 years old. Some of the signs of autism may be evident as early as 10 to 12 months old. The signs and symptoms of autism varies and it is important to note them so as to catch any warning behaviour early.
Here are some of the symptoms of autism you should know about:
- Early warning signs in babies: Babies are very social, so it is possible to detect signs of autism in how babies interact with their world. A baby with autism may not turn to a mother’s voice, not respond to his own name, not look people in the eye, not smile or respond to social cues from people.
- Restricted behaviours and repetitive behaviours: Some of the signs to look out for here according to Autism Speaks are Repetitive body movements (e.g. rocking, flapping, spinning, running back and forth) repetitive motions with objects (e.g. spinning wheels, shaking sticks, flipping levers) staring at lights or spinning objects. In addition, according to HelpGuide, signs include when the child has trouble understanding feelings or even talking about them, and so on.
- Social communication challenges: Some of the signs of social communication challenges include difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication which includes Eye contact, Facial expressions, Tone of voice, feeling overwhelmed in social situations, taking turns in conversations, doesn’t like to communicate needs and desires, and so on.
- Narrow range of interest and activities: another sign of autism is when the child is uninterested and unaware of what is going on around.
Scientist do not know the exact cause of autism. In the past, people blamed parenting practices, which added a burden of guilt and shame on parents who are already struggling to cope with a disabled child but today most scientists believe that it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors that causes autism.
As parents, it is important to always monitor your children and spot earliest warning signs of anything because you know your child better than anyone.
If you have noticed anything out of the ordinary, please contact your paediatrician.