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There’s a difference between autism warning signs and personality ‘quirks’
With autism on the rise, every parent has asked themselves a few questions at least once. Questions like : Could my child have autism? And would I know what to look for if they did?
Thanks to the teams of scientists who have dedicated their careers to figuring out the possible causes or triggers of this neurodevelopmental disorder that can present on a spectrum in children as young as 12 months old.
A lot of people wants to know the why behind autism, but until that day comes, we are left with a more immediate question : Is my kid
Many parents are dying to know the why of autism, but until that day comes, moms and dads are left with the more immediate question: Is my kid on the spectrum?
When do the signs of autism first appear?
Knowing what to look for is always the key. According to Dr. Mayra Mendez, PhD, LMFT, “Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder with genetic, behavioral and environmental implications. The disorder consists of a variation of behaviors that typically affect the development of abilities such as communication of experiences, communication of emotions, use of appropriate imagination and engagement of interpersonal social relationships with others.”
The most common signs of autism start during the critical periods of early development, normally between 12 to 18 months of age.Kids are usually diagnosed with autism until age 4 because some milestones are easily overlooked.
What are the early signs of autism?
Testing for autism may seem intimidating to an outsider. Expert says the signs of autism can be divided into three basic categories:
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1. Communication and social interaction
- The child does not smile, point or babble by 1 year of age.
- The child does not speak one word by 16 months.
- The child does not combine two words into a meaningful phrase by 2 years.
- The child does not respond to his or her name (at times he or she may seem to be hearing impaired).
- Poor eye contact.
2. Physical movement and activities
- Stereotyped movements.
- Repetitive non-functional activities (hand flapping; rocking back and forth; jumping and twirling; arranging, rearranging and moving objects, like opening and closing doors; repeating sounds, words or phrases, etc.).
- The child does not seem to know how to play with toys (toys are no different from other objects; no “role plays”).
- The child tends to line up toys and other objects in a certain way; gets frustrated if they are moved.
- The child is attached to one particular toy or object.
3. Environment and daily routines
- The child gets frustrated if his/her daily routine is disrupted (due to visitors, travel, etc.).
- The child negatively responds even to the slightest changes in the physical environment: higher/lower room temperature, a new bright object in the bedroom (like a yellow pillow, for example), a new arrangement of furniture, a softer/harder mattress, an air-freshener, etc. – no matter how “positive” these changes are (more comfortable room temperature, cute pillow, new mattress, pleasant aroma), your child will be uncomfortable for quite some time because his/her senses are just too delicate.
When should you call the doctor?
Most parents who take the time to read through a list like this will still have one question on their mind: Where’s the line between a sign of autism and a unique personality? According to Dr. Hagerty, this question is nothing new and is even welcomed. Seeing a few of the signs above could mean a shy or quirky kid, though Dr. Hagerty points out that it’s important to consult a doctor when your child exhibits three or more of the signs of autism.
For the many concerned parents out there, you can’t see autism within one symptom, but three or more symptoms could warrant a visit to the doctor. And remember, as the parent, you know best — talk with your child’s pedia about any developmental issues that come up.