Autism is on the rise in the United States and around the world to the point where some are even calling it an autism epidemic. Whether this is truly the case or if medical professionals have just become better equipped and more informed when it comes to what to look for; autism is not going away anytime soon. As a parent, would you know what to look for when it comes to the early signs of autism? It may be difficult to discern in a fidgety toddler. Coming from personal experience, I wanted to share with you how to recognize signs of autism in toddlers. My oldest daughter was diagnosed right around her second birthday. I was blindsided and my life changed. But we had a diagnosis and from there, I could create a plan.
The Early Signs of Autism in Toddlers
The signs of autism are best to be discovered during the child’s first few years of life, in order to best treat and plan. One theory suggests that signs of autism can sometimes be spotted from the moment of birth, the child manifesting little responsiveness to stimuli, failing to anticipate movement and paying little attention to their mothers or caretakers.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that autism is a spectrum disorder. Though there may be similarities from one child to another; generally speaking no two children are exactly alike.
It is very important to quickly see the first signs of autism, as this disability is known to cause serious damage to the child’s behavior, social interactions, communication skills and adaptability.
Children with autism may develop slower than normal children of the same age. Autistic children are also more vulnerable to some illnesses and conditions, such as allergies, respiratory insufficiency, digestive disorders and so on.
Autistic children are different from typically developing children judging by aspects like personality, skills and abilities. Their behavioral development is affected by the particularities of many environmental factors. It is difficult to diagnose an infant or a small baby with autism, as the signs of autism are very subtle at such an early age.
They still may look the same as their typically developing peers.
Some toddlers may just have ongoing behavioral issues or it could just be the age. They’re toddlers, after all, and toddlers are known to be quite stubborn creatures. Or your toddler may have an issue with hitting others.
Sometimes, however, parents are able to detect the presences of certain abnormalities in the development of their child. Although parents aren’t always able to tell exactly what makes their child different from other children of the same age, it is very important when they discover such behavioral particularities.
At the opposite pole, some parents fail to notice any abnormalities in their children’s behavior, thinking that they might just develop slower than others.
An interesting form of autism is regressive autism.
Many children seem to develop normally until they reach certain periods of their early childhood, when the first signs of autism suddenly occur. At this point, children experience a deterioration of their social interaction and communication skills.
This is similar to what happened with my daughter. One week she was playing peek-a-boo and asking for bubbles. The next? Gone.
The symptoms of autism in children include nonverbal and verbal communication skills, along with odd facial expressions and speech difficulties. The language used by the children in the autism is often immature, unimaginative and not concrete.
The language will be stilted in nature. Keep in mind that all of these symptoms may not be present in all children with autism.
Children with autism can also be less aware of stimulus in the external environment. In some cases, they are unable to recognize their parents after the first few months of life.
Autism in children can lead to toilet training problems.
Autism also has the possibility to hamper the child’s ability to smile and show emotion and can end with behavioral abnormalities, such as walking on tiptoe, tantrums, unpredictable behavior, strange postures, staring at hands, and rocking.
They may also prefer playing alone, remain aloof, and become segregated from other children. Autism in children may cause the affected child to become obsessed with one action or topic, and extreme confrontation to change of any kind.
The child with autism may want to set a separate environment for themselves and also may establish their own behavioral patterns.
More Early Signs of Autism to Look For
– poor responsiveness to their own name and selective responsiveness to sounds (children with autism may ignore certain sounds, while responding to others of the same intensity);
– difficulties in joint attention (autistic children don’t usually follow the movements indicated by their parents and refuse to concentrate on objects that are shown to them);
– poor imitational behaviors (unlike typically developing babies, small babies with autism don’t often imitate facial expressions and gestures like hand waving, smiling, making faces);
– lack of understanding of others’ feelings, difficulties in relating with other people (autistic children have poor emphatic skills and are often unable to show compassion to persons in distress; in most cases they ignore their parents when they fake an injury, showing no facial expressions that may reveal their concern);
– the inability of understand and play imagination games or “pretend” games (normal children like to pretend for instance that they are feeding a doll or they imagine themselves to be someone else; children with autism show no interest to such games, failing to imagine things to be different than they really are).
It is incredibly important to pay attention to potential signs of autism in the development of small children.
The signs manifest at an early stage in a child’s life and it is certainly possible to diagnose an autistic toddler.
Autism in children usually manifests in two forms: Patients exhibit the symptoms of autism within the first few months of life, or the child would be apparently normal up to 18 to 24 months of age, and then the symptoms would occur suddenly.
The cause of autism is still unknown.
That is why parents should not blame themselves if they feel that they had been negligent in taking care of their kids during infancy, or if a mother thinks she might not have properly taken care of herself during pregnancy.
Just as the definite cause is still unknown, there is no definite treatment to “get rid” of autism. In fact, the very notion is ridiculous. Autism is a neurological disorder. It is not a disease.
Even if the parent may not be able to free his or her child from the condition, the best option to the parents of an autistic child is to address the problem. It is best to consult an expert on this field.
The family may have to stick to a definite lifestyle to adjust to the needs of the child. This would require extra patience also. Send the child to a special education school. If the autism of the child is relatively mild, be sure that you inform ahead the teacher or the principal of the condition.
More than anything else; simply make the child feel your loving care.
Autism in children is considered a lifelong disability. The occurrence of the disability ranges from mild to severe. In mild form, the child with autism can live independently, whereas in severe form the autism requires medical supervision and support throughout his/her life.
The parent or caregiver is also going to need support and help during this time. I would recommend taking a look at these books:
What to Expect with a Toddler Who Might Have Autism
Because autism is so different in every child, it is a tricky disorder to diagnose.
However, there are a few key ways in which doctors can efficiently identify autism in children, and if your infant or toddler is showing any of these signs of autism, you should visit your pediatrician immediately to express your concerns.
The first step to diagnosing autism is a thorough physical examination as well as a review of family history by a specialist. Although your regular pediatrician will be able to spot unusual behavior, you’ll want your child to be examined by a professional who specializes in autism and other similar diseases to make sure your child is properly diagnosed.
The next step might include hearing tests.
Sine language and social skill delays could be due to inadequate auditory sensations. There are two types of auditory tests, one of which records the tones a child can hear and the other of which requires sedation and measures the brain response to certain tones.
Of course, the first method is preferred, since it does not require any use of a sedative. After auditory testing, your doctor may encourage testing your child for Fragile X syndrome, which often times goes hand in hand with autism. Metabolism can also be evaluated. To do this, your doctor will need a blood or urine sample to analyze DNA.
An MRI or CAT scan can also be helpful in diagnosing autism. The important thing is to work with doctors you trust. Second opinions can be very helpful, but when your child has been diagnosed, stick with one doctor so that treatment is uniform and so that your child will get used to this person.
Autism is difficult to diagnose and even more difficult to treat, so remember that you should begin to learn as much as possible about the disorder as soon as your doctor identifies it.
If you have yet to speak with your doctor about abnormal behavior in your child, do so immediately. By detecting autism early, you give your child a better chance at becoming a high-functioning individual with much more opportunities in life.
And though it may not seem like at the time, receiving a diagnosis of autism is a good thing.
Would you know how to recognize the signs of autism in toddlers?