The symptoms of autism spectrum disorders vary from person to person. One person with autism may be very verbal, bright and engaged, while another is non-verbal, intellectually challenged and almost entirely self-absorbed.
In addition, people with autism seem to be more prone to other symptoms not listed in the diagnostic criteria. These symptoms include sensory dysfunction, sleep disorders, self-abusive behavior and more. The only symptoms all people with autism do have in common across the spectrum are challenges, disabilities, or delays in the area of social communication.
With such a wide range of possible symptoms, how is it possible to identify a child with autism?
To understand what autism looks like, you can take a look at the diagnostic criteria used by doctors and other practitioners, which is published in the official diagnostic manual. You might find it more practical, however, to look through the more user friendly list from The National Institute of Mental Health (see below). While this list is a useful starting place, it's not a substitute for professional evaluation. A child may well reach his milestones at an early age and still qualify for an autism spectrum diagnosis -- or, on the other hand, appear to have several symptoms and not be autistic at all. That's because autism spectrum disorders look different in every child, and while some children may develop typically for a while and then develop symptoms, others may have obvious symptoms from infancy.
Signs & Symptoms of Autism
Autism can be stated as the disorder of brain, which is associated with various developmental problems like social interaction and communication. The first symptom of autism begins before the age 3. In some cases autism signs are identified even at ages younger than six months. Some infants even show the signs at the moment of their birth but most of the children develop the autism symptoms later in their childhood. Since autism resembles with other disorders like mental retardation or deafness, it is very difficult to make correct diagnosis of autism. In such cases autism symptoms checklist acts as a diagnostic tool.
It’s very important to have early diagnosis of the autism symptoms. Before proceeding with autism symptoms checklist we will see some basic autism symptoms found in babies who are six months old. There are some autism symptoms, which can be noticed at the age of six months. For eg: A normal baby who is six months old gets attracted towards the objects around it and responds to the presence of it’s mother. Whereas an autistic baby doesn’t get attracted towards any object, it stares at a single object for a long time. It even doesn’t respond to the presence of its mother. A normal baby recognizes its mother or father whereas an autistic baby doesn’t.
These were some of the basic autism symptoms found in small babies. Let’s now move on to autism symptoms checklist. These autism symptoms checklist helps in correct diagnosis of autism. The following autism symptoms checklist contains the most encountered symptoms of the autism, but autism symptoms may vary and so does not have a certain pattern. Even if your child shows 4 to 5 symptoms from the below given autism symptoms checklist then your child is autistic.
Signs of autism may appear during infancy and the disorder is usually diagnosed by the age of 3. Sometimes the child's development appears normal until about 2 years old and then regresses rapidly. Symptoms of autism occur in various combinations, from mild to severe.
Infants with the disorder often display abnormal reactions to sensory stimuli (i.e., senses may be over- or underactive). Touches may be experienced as painful, smells may be overwhelmingly unpleasant, and ordinary daily noises may be painful. Loud noises (e.g., motorcycle going by, vacuum cleaner) and bright lights may cause inconsolable crying.
Other signs of the disorder in infants include the following:
- Children with autism avoid eye-to-eye contact with their parents and stare at a single object for a long time.
- Children suffering from autism don’t like to mix with other children and like to live in their own world.
- Autistic child likes to be alone and has very few or no friends at all.
- Autistic children have communication problems; they are not able to express themselves due to their poor verbal skills.
- Autistic children often ignore the people around them and sometimes don't even respond to their own name seeming to be deaf.
- Autistic children show lack of interest for simple attention games and play very different as compared to other children. Even their way of playing seems to be strange.
- They show no fear of real dangers and appear to have a reduced sensitivity to pain.
- Autistic children show poor response to social smile, they does not smile or react to someone who smiles at them.
- Autistic children have an increased sensitivity to loud noises and intense lights.
- All the children suffering from autism may not display all of the symptoms given in autistic symptoms checklist. Presence of 4 to 5 symptoms is enough for you to seek a medical advice.
- Appears indifferent to surroundings
- Appears content to be alone, happier to play alone
- Displays lack of interest in toys
- Displays lack of response to others
- Does not point out objects of interest to others (called protodeclarative pointing)
- Marked reduction or increase in activity level
- Resists cuddling
Young children with autism usually have impaired language development. They often have difficulty expressing needs (i.e., use gestures instead of words) and may laugh, cry, or show distress for unknown reasons. Some autistic patients develop rudimentary language skills that do not serve as an effective form of communication. They may develop abnormal patterns of speech that lack intonation and expression and may repeat words or phrases repetitively (called echolalia). Some children with autism learn to read.
1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism or Asperger's, Revised and Expanded 2nd Edition
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