Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a developmental disability that can cause language and social problems in addition to behavioral problems. ASD can vary greatly from child to child and the symptoms can be different amongst each child as well. We are still learning a great deal about autism, what it stems from, and how to treat it but there are warning signs and signals to look out for when your child is growing and developing. The sooner autism is diagnosed, the sooner your child can begin receiving special help and education to assist in his or her development. Each child develops and hits certain milestones (like rolling over, crawling, walking, and talking) at different times but if your child is more behind than usual in reaching any of these developmental stages, it may be a good idea to speak with your child’s pediatrician about being tested for autism. Of course, there’s no reason to overreact if your child is delayed a bit…each child is unique and different. But beware if a longer time has gone by without your child reaching these important developmental stages.
In addition to your child possible being delayed in rolling over, sitting, pulling up, crawling, or walking, there are a few other physical signs of delayed development to look out for. If your child struggles with certain fine motor skills like using eating utensils (picking up/holding a fork or spoon) or even picking up small toys, these may be signs your child has a form of ASD.
Common Language Signs of a Child with an ASD:
- Not speaking before 2 years of age (this varies though – if your child is not talking before 2 or 3, do not be too alarmed – some children take a bit longer to start talking)
- May be able to speak a few words earlier on then not be able to do so at a later time
Common Social Skills Signs:
- Doesn’t respond to his or her name
- Doesn’t smile
- Struggles with direct eye contact – can’t focus on one thing
- Fights being cuddled or snuggled
- Prefers playing alone rather than engaging with parents or other children
Common Behavioral Signs:
- Can’t remain still for long – always moving around
- Struggles with any change in a typical daily routine
- Intense temper tantrums and meltdowns
- Unique sensitivity to touch, light, and certain common sounds
- Stays focused on one object for a long length of time
If your child shows signs of any of the above, we at Jolly Fun House Playschools recommend speaking with your child’s pediatrician regarding developmental “lags.” Though it may be an ASD that your child may have, there are other reasons your child may be a bit behind so don’t stress out. Speak with professionals that are knowledgeable and are held in high esteem in the field of child development and stay calm. Remember that your child will feed off your energy so stay positive, encouraging, loving, and nurturing.