The first signs of autism may appear before the age of 3. However, it happens that already in infancy parents notice that their child develops differently. Symptoms that may suggest autism spectrum disorders take different forms. There is no overall pattern of the disorder, but parents should pay close attention to some of their child's behaviors. Concerned parents very often ask how to recognize the first signs of autism?
Some characteristic behaviors of the child may be due to autism spectrum disorders, but it is important to remember that only a reliable diagnosis, carried out by a specialist, can give a definite answer.
The M-CHAT- R/F screening test is used to assess the risk of autism spectrum disorders. The tools can be used both by a specialist in the diagnosis process and as part of follow-up visits to a family doctor, as well as at home by a parent.
The first of the signals that a parent should pay attention to may be a lack of babbling. This is an area worth monitoring, as impaired speech development can have other causes, but often accompanies the autism spectrum. In addition to the lack of speech onset, it can also be poor facial expressions and infrequent displays of emotion. Parents of children who are later diagnosed with autism often mention that as early as infancy there were times when the child wandered around with his eyes and seemed absent.
Symptoms that may predispose to autism spectrum disorders may be evident when parents and peers attempt to engage the child in play or other shared activities. A signal that may suggest autism spectrum disorder may be a child's lack of response to a toy given or an object shown. Repeated failure to keep the child interested should prompt parents to investigate what the child's lack of enthusiasm is due to.
Special attention should be paid to the child's response after trying to make contact with a smile or saying the child's name. Repeated lack of response to these messages, can be considered alarming.
Another aspect worth noting is to observe how the child plays when alone. Pay attention to whether there are times when he plays in the same way, with the same toy, for many hours.
Usually, children quickly get bored of engaging in one activity for a long time. Suspicions may be aroused when a child feels comfortable doing a routine activity. If a child does the same activity for several hours, it is worth talking to a specialist about it.
An equally important symptom that can indicate autism spectrum is staring at one point for a long time. Children with autism like repetitive activities. This could be staring at the hands of a clock for hours, the laundry in the washing machine or the windshield wipers of a car.
Visible symptoms that may suggest autism spectrum disorders are often noticed when a child begins to make the first forms of contact with others.
Some children with autism do not attach themselves to people who periodically appear at home. At first glance, it looks as if they are ignoring the arrival of grandma or auntie, but in fact this may be a signal of a disorder.
It is worth noting if the child does not like to be touched very much or even does not allow his person to be touched. Parents should investigate the cause of such behavior, and consult a specialist about their doubts.
It is also important to pay attention to stereotypical behaviors, which may look like waving one's arms for no reason or going in circles for long periods of time. These behaviors are quite specific, and parents are able to notice whether it is a momentary play or a cyclically recurring, unwarranted activity.
The key is to watch the child vigilantly, to be able to be with him in varied situations, only then, the game overall there are several signals, the parent should be concerned.
The M-chart screening test can be used. The test helps to estimate the risk of autism spectrum disorders in children.
However, it should be remembered that the risk group is much broader than the number of children who are diagnosed with autism spectrum.
Attention should be paid to such details as attachment to everyday objects. While it is true that most people had a favorite cup, plate or toy as a child, a worrying sign can be when a child just can't use these items. They should not react with excessive anger, aggression or panic. Any such behavior may suggest an autism spectrum disorder.
In slightly older children who are already able to say their first words, yet see no desire or need in making contact and carrying out their first attempts at conversation, this may be the result of the first signs of disturbed social interaction.
It happens that children with autism duplicate all the time a message heard on TV, for example, in the form of an advertising slogan. Sentences are repeated over and over again, very often without meaning or proper context.
It is also worth observing the child's habits and routines. An inadequate reaction to the situation, if, for example, you miss a distinctive place during the return home or something unexpected happens, this can be one of the signals characteristic of children with autism.
All of the above-mentioned examples can occur in children with autism, but they are only examples of behaviors and situations that, due to the individuality of each disorder, can take a completely different form and should be considered only in terms of a clue about how to recognize the signals of autism.
If your child is exhibiting unusual behaviors and you have observed any of the first signs of autism discussed, you can ask for a referral to a facility that offers diagnosis, such as the JiM Clinic, or use private clinics to address any concerns.
The autism spectrum is characterized by a wide variety of disorders, which can manifest themselves in very individual ways. It is worth bearing in mind that the occurrence of single of the signals we have mentioned does not yet mean autism, since the difficulty of diagnosis also lies in the exclusion of other similar disorders.