Does Your Child Have Autistic Spectrum Disorder?
What You Need to Know:
There are many different degrees of Autism. The best case scenario, would be for your child to be diagnosed before they enter Kindergarten. However, in order to do that, you need to be aware of the symptoms, and what to look for. Because the range of symptoms varies dramatically, and affects so many different levels of functioning, the clinical diagnosis for all children with Autism, is now referred to as Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
What to Look For If You Suspect Autistic Spectrum Disorder:
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a disorder in the brain that primarily affects a child’s behavior, communication, and social skills. Therefore, as a parent, you may not notice if your child has ASD right away, because it doesn’t usually affect their developmental milestones. Your child will sit, crawl, and walk at the normal age. You probably wouldn’t notice any delays in social or communication skills during infancy. However, the sooner a child is diagnosed, the sooner intervention can begin. The earlier intervention begins, the better chance your child will have of making improvements and living the best quality of life possible.
Some of the signs and symptoms of Autistic Spectrum Disorder:
No Two Children Will Ever Exhibit The Same Symptoms or Severity:
- Difficulty with eye contact; Lack of Response to your smile.
- Shows no interest in sharing objects or events with you.
- Inappropriate facial expressions or can’t read facial expressions.
- No empathy for others; No interest or ability in making friends.
- Delay in communication and speech; parroting or echoing others.
- Responds to sounds but not their name; Mixes up pronouns.
- No desire to communicate; doesn’t initiate conversations.
- May have good memorization of letters, numbers, TV shows.
- Needs routine and has difficulty with change.
- Rocks, Spins, twirls fingers, and other behaviors like these.
- Either extremely sensitive, or not sensitive at all to their senses.
One of The Biggest Tell Tale Signs of Children With ASD:
You may not notice delays in social and communication skills right away, especially if your child reaches all of their developmental milestones on time. However, there is one telltale sign that almost all children with ASD exhibit, and can be seen at a very young age. This symptom is referred to as lack of joint attention. Joint attention refers to the early stages of making connections with people, which later develops into the ability to develop social and communication skills.
This early stage of making connections, called joint attention, refers to all those times when your child looks at an object or something that’s going on in the room, and then looks at you, and back and forth they go…and in the process…they smile and make that connection with you. If your child is unable to do this…unable to make this connection…If your child has a lack of joint attention…There’s a very good chance they may have Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
There are different developmental stages of joint attention, and children with ASD will typically have delays at every stage:
- Between 10 and 12 months, if you point at an object, your child should look in the direction you’re pointing in, then look back toward you and smile. If your child has ASD, they most likely will simply ignore you. Many parents will confuse this with thinking their child has a hearing loss.
- By 12 to 14 months your child should point to whatever they want in hopes that you will retrieve it for them. If your child has ASD, they will most likely take you by the hand and lead you to whatever it is they want, but will not make eye contact.
- Between 14 and 16 months a child begins to point at everything that he finds enjoyment or interest in. They will look at you to make sure you are enjoying that same pleasure with them. If your child has ASD, they will point to something only for the purpose of you retrieving it for them, not because they want you to share any interest or enjoyment with them.
There is a great deal of information about Autistic Spectrum Disorder. More information than I could ever post in one blog. There is more research being done all the time…new discoveries, new interventions, new symptoms and early diagnoses. I will continue to update this blog with new information…
Autistic children are special…Please feel free to post any comments…
Susan Morin, LICSW – Morin Therapy