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How do i know if my child has autism symptoms
Learn the Signs of Autism
One of the most important things you can do as a parent or caregiver is to learn the early signs of autism and become familiar with the typical developmental milestones that your child should be reaching.
The autism diagnosis age and intensity of autism’s early signs vary widely. Some infants show hints in their first months. In others, behaviors become obvious as late as age 2 or 3.
Not all children with autism show all the signs. Many children who don’t have autism show a few. That’s why professional evaluation is crucial.
The following may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, ask your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation right away:
By 6 months
Few or no big smiles or other warm, joyful and engaging expressions
Limited or no eye contact
By 9 months
Little or no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions
By 12 months
Little or no babbling
Little or no back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving
Little or no response to name
By 16 months
Very few or no words
By 24 months
Very few or no meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating)
At any age
Loss of previously acquired speech, babbling or social skills
Avoidance of eye contact
Persistent preference for solitude
Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings
Delayed language development
Persistent repetition of words or phrases (echolalia)
Resistance to minor changes in routine or surroundings
Repetitive behaviors (flapping, rocking, spinning, etc. )
Unusual and intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colors
If you have concerns, get your child screened and contact your healthcare provider
The M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers ™) can help you determine if a professional should evaluate your child. This simple online autism screen, available on our website, takes only a few minutes. If the answers suggest your child has a high probability for autism, please consult with your child’s doctor. Likewise, if you have any other concerns about your child's development, don't wait. Speak to your doctor now about screening your child for autism.
A diagnosis of autism is an important turning point in a long journey to understand your child's world. Autism Speaks has many resources for families whose children have recently received a diagnosis.
These include Autism Speaks First Concern to Action Tool Kit and First Concern to Action Roadmap.
Signs of autism in adults and teens
Do you suspect that your feelings and behaviors involve autism? Many people who have milder forms of autism go undiagnosed until adulthood. Find out more in our guide: "Is it Autism and If So, What Next?"
Please visit Treatment of Autism and our Autism Speaks Directory for more information. Have more questions? Autism Speaks' Autism Response Team can help you with information, resources and opportunities. Call us at 888-288-4762 (en Español 888-772-9050) or email [email protected].
Recent research confirms that appropriate screening can determine whether a child is at risk for autism as young as one year. While every child develops differently, we also know that early treatment improves outcomes, often dramatically. Studies show, for example, that early intensive behavioral intervention improves learning, communication and social skills in young children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
Screening and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be difficult because there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorder. Doctors look at the child’s developmental history and behavior to make a diagnosis.
ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months of age or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered reliable . However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older. Some people are not diagnosed until they are adolescents or adults. This delay means that people with ASD might not get the early help they need.
Diagnosing children with ASD as early as possible is important to make sure children receive the services and supports they need to reach their full potential . There are several steps in this process.
Developmental monitoring is an active, ongoing process of watching a child grow and encouraging conversations between parents and providers about a child’s skills and abilities. Developmental monitoring involves observing how your child grows and whether your child meets the typical developmental milestones, or skills that most children reach by a certain age, in playing, learning, speaking, behaving, and moving.
Parents, grandparents, early childhood education providers, and other caregivers can participate in developmental monitoring. CDC’s Learn the Signs. Act Early. program has developed free materials, including CDC’s Milestone Tracker app, to help parents and providers work together to monitor your child’s development and know when there might be a concern and if more screening is needed. You can use a brief checklist of milestones to see how your child is developing. If you notice that your child is not meeting milestones, talk with your doctor or nurse about your concerns and ask about developmental screening. Learn more about CDC Milestone Tracker app, milestone checklists, and other parent materials.
When you take your child to a well visit, your doctor or nurse will also do developmental monitoring. The doctor or nurse might ask you questions about your child’s development or will talk and play with your child to see if they are developing and meeting milestones.
Your doctor or nurse may also ask about your child’s family history. Be sure to let your doctor or nurse know about any conditions that your child’s family members have, including ASD, learning disorders, intellectual disability, or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Developmental screening takes a closer look at how your child is developing.
Developmental screening is more formal than developmental monitoring. It is a regular part of some well-child visits even if there is not a known concern.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends developmental and behavioral screening for all children during regular well-child visits at these ages:
In addition, AAP recommends that all children be screened specifically for ASD during regular well-child visits at these ages:
Screening questionnaires and checklists are based on research that compares your child to other children of the same age. Questions may ask about language, movement, and thinking skills, as a well as behaviors and emotions. Developmental screening can be done by a doctor or nurse, or other professionals in healthcare, community, or school settings. Your doctor may ask you to complete a questionnaire as part of the screening process. Screening at times other than the recommended ages should be done if you or your doctor have a concern. Additional screening should also be done if a child is at high risk for ASD (for example, having a sibling or other family member with ASD) or if behaviors sometimes associated with ASD are present. If your child’s healthcare provider does not periodically check your child with a developmental screening test, you can ask that it be done.
View and print a fact sheet on developmental monitoring and screening pdf icon[657 KB, 2 Pages, Print Only]
A brief test using a screening tool does not provide a diagnosis, but it can indicate whether a child is on the right development track or if a specialist should take a closer look. If the screening tool identifies an area of concern, a formal developmental evaluation may be needed. This formal evaluation is a more in-depth look at a child’s development and is usually done by a trained specialist such as a developmental pediatrician, child psychologist, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, or other specialist. The specialist may observe the child give the child a structured test, ask the parents or caregivers questions, or ask them to fill out questionnaires. The results of this formal evaluation highlight your child’s strengths and challenges and can inform whether they meet criteria for a developmental diagnosis.
A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately; autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. Your doctor or other healthcare provider can help you understand and navigate the diagnostic process.
The results of a formal developmental evaluation can also inform whether your child needs early intervention services. In some cases, the specialist might recommend genetic counseling and testing for your child.
Lord C, Risi S, DiLavore PS, Shulman C, Thurm A, Pickles A. Autism from 2 to 9 years of age. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006 Jun;63(6):694-701.
Hyman SL, Levey SE, Myers SM, Council on Children with Disabilities, Section on Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. Identification, Evaluation, and Management of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Pediatrics. 2020 Jan;145(1).
"Children of the rain". What you need to know about autism
11 April 2019 12:01
Behind the poetic expression "children of the rain" lies the daily feat of people who are faced with a diagnosis of autism. Children who will never be able to perceive themselves as part of the world around them, and parents for whom every day is a series of battles and victories. First, fighting with yourself, accepting and realizing that their child will never be cured, and then fighting the disease for every gesture, every smile, every look and word of the child - small, but such important victories.
Scientists have not been able to reliably establish the causes of the disease. It is known about the genetic predisposition: signs of autism are more often manifested in people whose family already has an autistic person. Pregnancy in mothers of such children proceeds normally, and the children themselves are often very attractive in appearance - autism, as a rule, does not affect the physical development of the child. However, the development of autism is still in some cases associated with the manifestation of other diseases:
maternal rubella infection during pregnancy;
impaired fat metabolism (the risk of having a baby with autism is greater in obese women).
All of these conditions can have a bad effect on the brain and, as a result, provoke symptoms of autism. However, what autism is, and what are the causes of its manifestation, is still not completely clear.
Early diagnosis plays an important role in the further development of an autistic child. Autism in children is manifested by certain signs. Early childhood autism is a condition that can manifest itself in children at a very early age - both at 1 year old and at 2 years old. What is autism in a child, and whether this disease occurs, is determined by a specialist. But you can independently figure out what kind of illness a child has and suspect him, based on information about the signs of such a condition.
Early signs of autism in a child
This syndrome is characterized by 4 main signs. In children with this disease, they can be determined to varying degrees.
Signs of autism in children are as follows:
impaired social interaction;
early symptoms of childhood autism in children under 3 years of age.
The first signs of autistic children can be expressed as early as the age of 2 years. Symptoms may be mild when eye-to-eye contact is impaired, or more severe when it is completely absent. As a rule, autism manifests itself very early - even before the age of 1, parents can recognize it. In the first months, such children are less mobile, react inadequately to stimuli from the outside, they have poor facial expressions.
The child cannot perceive a holistic image of a person who is trying to communicate with him. Even in the photo and video, you can recognize that such a baby's facial expressions do not correspond to the current situation. He does not smile when someone tries to amuse him, but he can laugh when the reason for this is not clear to anyone close to him. The face of such a baby is mask-like, grimaces periodically appear on it.
Baby uses gestures only to indicate needs. As a rule, even in children under one year old, interest is sharply shown if they see an interesting object - the baby laughs, points with a finger, and demonstrates joyful behavior. The first signs in children under 1 year old can be suspected if the child does not behave like this. Symptoms of autism in children under one year old are manifested by the fact that they use a certain gesture, wanting to get something, but do not seek to capture the attention of their parents by including them in their game.
An autistic person cannot understand other people's emotions. How this symptom manifests itself in a child can be traced already at an early age. If ordinary children have a brain designed in such a way that they can easily determine when they look at other people, they are upset, cheerful or scared, then an autistic person is not capable of this.
The child is not interested in peers. Already at the age of 2, ordinary children strive for company - to play, to get acquainted with their peers. Signs of autism in children of 2 years old are expressed by the fact that such a baby does not participate in games, but plunges into his own world. Those who want to know how to recognize a child 2 years old and older should simply look at the company of children: an autist is always alone and does not pay attention to others or perceives them as inanimate objects.
It is difficult for a child to play with imagination and social roles. Children 3 years old and even younger play, fantasizing and inventing role-playing games. In autistics, symptoms at 3 years old may be expressed by the fact that they do not understand what a social role in the game is, and do not perceive toys as integral objects. For example, signs of autism in a child of 3 years old can be expressed by the fact that the baby spins the wheel of a car for hours or repeats other actions.
Child does not respond to emotions and communication from parents. Previously, it was believed that such children are not emotionally attached to their parents at all. But now scientists have proven that when a mother leaves, such a child at 4 years old and even earlier shows anxiety. If family members are around, he looks less obsessed. However, in autism, signs in children of 4 years old are expressed by a lack of reaction to the fact that parents are absent. The autist shows anxiety, but he does not try to return his parents.
In children under 5 years of age and later, there is a delay in speech or its complete absence (mutism). The speech is incoherent, the child repeats the same phrases, devoid of meaning, speaks of himself in the third person. He does not respond to other people's speech either. When the “age of questions” comes, parents will not hear them from the baby, and if they do, then these questions will be monotonous and without practical significance.
Stereotyped behavior includes obsession with one activity, repetition of daily rituals, development of fears and obsessions. At the same time, if the sequence of the ritual is violated, the child becomes hysterical or may show aggression or self-aggression.
Can autism be cured and is it curable at all? Unfortunately, there is no cure. How you can help your child depends on each individual case. Drug treatment is prescribed only in case of destructive behavior of a small patient. But, despite the fact that the disease is not curable, it is possible to correct the situation. The best "treatment" in this case is regular practice every day and the creation of the most favorable environment for the autistic. Classes are held in stages:
To form the skills that are needed for training. If the child does not make contact, gradually establish it, not forgetting who it is - autistics. Gradually it is necessary to develop at least the rudiments of speech.
Eliminate forms of behavior that are non-constructive: aggression, self-aggression, fears, withdrawing into oneself, etc.
Learn to observe, imitate.
Teaching social games and roles.
Learn to make emotional contact.
The most common treatment for autism is practiced according to the principles of behaviorism (behavioral psychology). One of the subtypes of such therapy is ABA therapy. The basis of this treatment is to observe what the reactions and behavior of the baby look like. After all the features are studied, incentives are selected for a particular autist. Speech therapy practice is obligatory: if the kid regularly works with a speech therapist, his intonation and pronunciation are getting better. At home, parents help the child develop self-service and socialization skills. Since autists have no motivation to play, they get used to the daily routine, everyday affairs, cards are created where the order of performing this or that action is written or drawn.
Why is early diagnosis important? There are conditions that mimic autism that can be confused with its symptoms. But other methods are used to correct them.
ZPRR with autistic features
The symptoms of this disease are associated with a delay in psychoverbal development. They are in many ways similar to the signs of autism. Starting from a very early age, the baby does not develop in terms of speech in the way that existing norms suggest. In the first months of life, he does not babble, then he does not learn to speak simple words. At 2-3 years old, his vocabulary is very poor. Such children are often poorly developed physically, sometimes hyperactive. The final diagnosis is made by the doctor. It is important to visit a psychiatrist, speech therapist with the child.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
This condition is also often mistaken for autism. With a lack of attention, children are restless, it is difficult for them to study at school. There are problems with concentration, such children are very mobile. Even in adulthood, echoes of this state remain, because it is difficult for such people to remember information and make decisions. You should try to diagnose this condition as early as possible, practice treatment with psychostimulants and sedative drugs, and visit a psychologist.
These are various hearing impairments, both congenital and acquired. Hearing-impaired children also have speech delays. Therefore, such children do not respond well to the name, fulfill requests and may seem naughty. At the same time, parents may suspect autism in children. But a professional psychiatrist will definitely send the baby for an examination of auditory function.
Hearing aid helps solve problems.
Autism was previously considered one of the manifestations of schizophrenia in children. However, it is now clear that these are two completely different diseases. Schizophrenia in children begins later - at 5-7 years. The symptoms of this disease appear gradually. Such children have obsessive fears, talk to themselves, later delusions and hallucinations appear. This condition is treated with medication.
It is important to understand that autism is not a death sentence. Indeed, with proper care, the earliest correction of autism and support from specialists and parents, such a baby can fully live, learn and find happiness, becoming an adult.
How to understand if your child has autism: six tips for parents
Elena Vladimirovna, parents of babies are most afraid of something that might happen to their child? Suddenly autism? How to recognize it?
Elena Orekhova: Autism is now diagnosed solely by behavior. Before the age of one, it is almost impossible to say with certainty whether a child has autism. Until that time, a small child can behave in exactly the same way as all other babies, look into the eyes, react to people. Scientists in the West are doing research trying to understand what are the earliest signs of autism. Parents who already have older children diagnosed with autism are invited to participate in such studies. The risk of autism in younger children in such families is increased, which gives scientists the opportunity to trace the early development of children with this diagnosis. At one time I worked in London in one of the laboratories where such research was carried out. There have been suggestions that children with autism do not need to communicate from birth. But it turned out that this was not the case. At three months, they looked into the eyes of another person even more than ordinary babies. As I got older, eye contact became less and less.
What signs will tell moms and dads that something is wrong with a child?
1. An important feature: speech delay, which is observed in almost all children with autism. Before a year, a child should be babbling, after a year he says separate words, a little later - sentences. If none of this is present before the age of two, it is not necessarily autism, but there is cause for concern. Most children with autism, although late, begin to speak, but their intonation suffers.
2. Ordinary children raise or lower their tone to emphasize what is being said, while children with autism are often perceived as strange: they either speak monotonously or place accents incorrectly in speech. At the MEG Center, we recently conducted a study in which we found that the left 'verbal' hemisphere of children with autism processes complex sounds differently from normal children. Now we want to find out how this disorder affects the development of speech. We invite both families of children with autism and children with typical development to participate in our study.
3. Another early sign of autism, oddly enough, is the suspicion of deafness. Parents often think that their child has a hearing impairment. They turn to him: "Kolya! Petya! Look ..." But he does not react. In a recent study conducted at the MEG Center, we found that half of the parents of autistic children during the first year and a half of life suspected that the child was not all right with hearing. In fact, his hearing is all right. But he does not respond, because he is completely immersed in the occupation that interests him.
Excuse me, but if a bucket falls with a roar next to an autistic child, will he react to this noise?
Elena Orekhova: Maybe yes, maybe no. These children often react in atypical ways to their environment.
4. The child may be annoyed by a slight noise outside the window, a light touch, a bright light. At the same time, he may not react to the roar, be insensitive to pain.
5. Another hint to parents: it is difficult for a child to ask you for something. Let's say he needs a pencil. He can take your hand and use it to try to get a pencil.
6. An autistic child does not have a pointing gesture. He won't point his finger at his favorite toy and ask for it.
It still happens that mothers in maternity hospitals are sometimes advised: abandon the child, he will not even recognize you. Does a child with autism understand that he has significant adults - parents, does he feel affection for them?
Elena Orekhova: Yes, the child is attached to his parents. He will feel sorry for his mother, because she is in pain, but it is difficult for him to understand feelings of a "higher order" - resentment, insult.
Can a child with autism be sent to a regular school?
Elena Orekhova: Such children often have sensory problems - the school environment can be simply unbearable for them. Flickering, screaming, noise, fuss: all this can cause a lot of stress, not at all contributing to normal learning. To calm down, the child may want to plug his ears, crawl under the desk.
Another problem is the unpredictability of the environment. For a child with autism, it is important that he knows what follows what and in what order. If the daily routine or sequence of events is disturbed in an unpredictable way, this also causes stress. Being among people is also difficult for them because people are often unpredictable. It is difficult for such children to understand the school rules, and they may not behave as the teacher wants. Maybe parents are pleased when such a child goes to a regular school, but, in the final analysis, one must also think about the child himself, create sparing conditions for him. Although, of course, everything is individual. Some children with autism and good speech and cognitive abilities (formerly known as Asperger's syndrome) can go to a regular school. But you need to carefully monitor how the child feels at school. Often such children can be not only uncommunicative, but also clumsy, becoming the object of ridicule and bullying from classmates.
Children are cruel... And not only to special peers
Elena Orekhova: It is necessary to tell schoolchildren that people are different and that this is normal. In Sweden, for example, ordinary schools hold lessons where children are offered to try to ride in a wheelchair, read Braille texts for the blind, and learn some words in the language of the deaf and dumb. They are told that there are people with special needs and that everyone should be treated with respect and no one should be offended. At the same time, correctional classes and schools have been preserved there. And in Sweden, the diagnosis of autism is by no means a sentence. There was a case in Gothenburg when a girl graduated from a technical university, then a medical one, and got a job in an ambulance as a doctor.