Are you worried your little one may have Autism? While doctors have become much better at recognizing and treating the disorder, diagnosing the condition can be difficult before a child is four years old. This is because the behavior and symptoms linked with Autism are also often present in children who don’t have the disorder.
As a parent, it’s easier for you to recognize when something is wrong. Although it is difficult to diagnose Autism there are some signs you can watch out for, even as early as the baby stage. Here, you’ll discover how to identify the early signs of Autism to ensure if your little one does have it, they can get the treatment they need as quickly as possible. Of course, it’s always recommended to verify your concerns with a doctor before jumping to any conclusions.
What Is Autism?
Autism is a permanent developmental disorder which ranges in severity. It affects how the person relates and communicates with others, as well as affecting how they experience life. They feel, see and hear things differently to everyone else, though it may affect some people more than others.
There’s an Autism Spectrum which diagnoses how severe the disorder is and the type of help the person will need throughout their lifetime. While there is no cure for Autism, there is help available to ensure the person can develop and live life however they choose to.
Signs Of Autism In Babies Under 12 Months Old
Although it’s difficult to identify Autism in babies under the age of 12 months old, it isn’t impossible. You’ll need to pay very close attention to how they are developing. Now, all babies develop at a different pace, which is what makes Autism so difficult to diagnose early on. However, some tell-tale signs to look out for include:
- Baby fails to make eye contact and may appear to look right through you
- They barely smile when making eye contact
- They aren’t interested in faces
- They fail to recognize sounds or react to them
- They don’t like being touched or cuddled
- There’s no babbling or attempt at talking
These are the main early signs to look out for. As a general rule, babies start to recognize their parents within a few weeks. While vision is initially quite blurry, by the age of 8 months, they should be able to recognize you across the room. Remember, even if your baby does present some of these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean they do have autism. However, it’s still worth being aware of them so you can continue to monitor their behavior and development throughout the toddler stages.
Signs Of Autism In Toddlers
Once your child reaches the toddler stage, it’s a little easier to start recognizing the signs of Autism. However, remember it’s still not a guarantee they have the disorder if your toddler does present the symptoms below.
- They don’t point to objects
- They don’t make gestures such as shaking their head for “no” or waving goodbye
- They don’t appear to be in tune with the world around them
- They’re not using single word answers by the age of 16 months
- They’re not walking or attempting to walk
Out of the signs above, not walking is the most difficult to diagnose. Children do develop at different rates and it’s actually not uncommon for toddlers to not be able to walk until they’re 3 years old. However, if they also present some of the other symptoms above, it could be a sign of the disorder.
After the age of 2, it does become slightly easier to identify Autism due to behavioral traits. However, if your child has a mild form of Autism, you may need to wait until they’re a little older to have it properly diagnosed.
What To Do If You Suspect Your Child Has Autism
If you do suspect your child has Autism, the most important thing is to seek advice from a doctor or pediatrician. Diagnosing the condition can be quite complex, especially if there are other potential causes of the behavioral and developmental symptoms your child is displaying.
When you do visit the doctor, it’s a good idea to take along a list of behaviors your child has. The more you can tell the doctor, the easier they’ll find it to make a correct diagnosis. It can take a while to receive a proper Autism diagnosis, so the earlier you seek advice, the sooner you can find out what the issue is. It isn’t a case of simply getting the diagnosis from your doctor – your child will also need to be assessed by other medical professionals such as a pediatrician and language and speech therapists.
How Is Autism Treated?
If your child is diagnosed with Autism, the treatment provided will depend entirely upon the severity of the disorder. Many children with Autism, also have other learning disabilities. Therefore, an individual treatment plan will be created to fit the needs of your child.
The different treatments available, which may be included in your child’s plan are:
- Behavioral treatments
- Treatment for other contributing issues such as sleep disturbance or seizures
- Parent training
In toddlers, early intervention behavioral treatment does tend to work well. Obviously, the success rate will vary from child to child, but generally speaking, it does tend to prove highly beneficial.
Behavioral intervention includes a range of treatments including structured therapeutic activities and specific learning objectives. Through these, it is possible to enhance the child’s development and improve the disability.
You’ll also discover there’s a lot of support available these days. If your child does get diagnosed with Autism, it’s worth joining local support groups, or even online forums. Being able to share your experience and get advice from other parents who are in the same situation can make the world of difference.
Overall, it can be difficult to identify the signs of Autism early on. However, paying attention to your child’s behavior and creating a list of your concerns can really help you to receive the best diagnosis.