How To Recognize Autism In Young Children? 8 Early Signs Of The Disorder

Date February 21, 2018

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects approximately 1 in 68 children and is more common in boys than in girls. Because it’s a spectrum disorder, its symptoms can range in severity. It’s usually diagnosed when a child starts kindergarten, but sometimes, distinct signs of autism can be seen in children who are just 12 months. It’s important to know how to recognize autism as early as possible, because early intervention can greatly improve the child’s emotional and cognitive development later in life.

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So, here are 8 signs that may indicate autism in young children:

1. The child avoids eye contact.

Children who don’t have autism often look their caregivers and other people in the eyes. Sometimes, a child may be shy and avoid eye contact with people he or she doesn’t know. But if the child doesn’t make eye contact with anyone or makes it very rarely, it may be a sign of autism.

2. The child doesn’t smile back.

Babies start to show emotions early, and they quickly learn to recognize positive and negative emotions in those around them. Babies with autism may not smile back at their parents and other people and may not react to or try to imitate other emotions that people around them show.

Animal-assisted therapy can help children with autism connect with their surroundings, and cats are among animals that are involved in this type of therapy.

3. The child doesn’t respond to his/her name.

Some children with autism don’t react when they hear their names, and this may be mistaken for hearing impairment. Watch the child’s reaction to other sounds, which may be a clue to the cause of his or her lack of response.

4. The child has difficulties acquiring language.

Some children without autism start to talk later than their peers. But problems with language skills are the major sign present in most children who have autism. It’s possible for toddlers with autism to start using words, but then lose language skills that they had acquired.

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5. The child doesn’t use non-verbal ways of communication.

If the child doesn’t point at objects, wave, clap his/her hands, and doesn’t use other moves, or gestures, or emotional facial expressions, it may be an indication of autism.

6. The child seems to be indifferent to his/her parents’ attention.

Young children usually express the need for their caregivers’ attention and do things to attract it. Children with autism may not make attempts to get their caregivers to pay attention to them.

Every child needs their parents' attention, and if children don't get it, it can lead to undesirable consequences.

7. The child makes unusual repetitive movements.

Children with autism are prone to unusual repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning, stiffening their arms and legs (may be seen in infants), rotating their wrists, and other such movements.

8. The child doesn’t engage in make-believe play.

Children usually start to participate in make-believe play (e.g. pretending to feed a doll) when they are 2 or 3 years old. Children with autism usually aren’t interested in such play; what they may like is solitary activities, such as arranging toys or other objects in a certain order.

Play is important for children's mental development, and playing outdoors has plenty of benefits.

If your child or a child of someone you know displays signs and behaviors described above, consult a qualified professional with an extensive experience diagnosing and treating children with autism.

Source: Autism Speaks, CDC, WebMD, CBS News

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This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.