Autism: 8 Warning Signs Every Parent Should Know
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects about 1 in 68 children and is therefore more common than we actually know. In addition, boys are more likely to suffer from this spectrum disorder than girls. Because it is a spectrum disorder, the symptoms can vary in severity. Often, it is diagnosed upon children in kindergarten, but sometimes you also see clear signs of autism when children are only 1 year old.
It is important to know the signs and symptoms so that you can also recognize them. Why? The earlier a child is diagnosed with autism, the sooner you can intervene and take it into account. This will significantly improve the life of your child. The question that remains: what are these signals exactly?
1. The child does not make eye contact.
Children without autism look both known and unknown people in the eyes often. Sometimes, a child can be shy and avoid eye contact with a stranger, but you will see the difference between shy and autistic fairly quickly. Rarely or not looking at all at both known and unknown people is a sign of autism.
2. The child does not smile back.
Babies show emotions early and learn to recognize positive and negative emotions quickly. Babies with autism often do not smile back to their parents, react little or not to the emotions of others and will not imitate them. Imitation is something that babies without autism often do. Do you want your child to respond to his or her environment? Animal therapy, such as dogs and cats, can help.
3. The child does not respond to his or her name.
Some children with autism do not respond to their name. This is often regarded as limited hearing, but it can also be a sign of autism. How do you know the difference? Watch how your child responds to other sounds from the environment.
4. The child has difficulty learning to speak.
Some children, without autism, start talking later than their peers, because, for example, there is always someone who will talk for them, due to a bigger brother or sister. When the child starts talking, there are no further problems. Autistic children, however, do not or hardly speak. It may well be that an autistic child has learned words in his or her toddler time, loses them later on and stops communicating.
5. The child does not use non-verbal communication.
Pointing, clapping, waving, gestures and facial expressions are all manners of non-verbal communication. Does your child hardly or never use these? Then this may be an indication of autism spectrum disorder.
6. The child seems to handle the attention of his or her parents indifferently.
Children, especially small children, like to get their parents’ attention. Whether it is positive or negative attention: children love it and they need it. Children with autism do not even attempt to get attention from their parents. Note: this does not mean that he or she does not need it at all. Autistic children often do not know how to deal with attention, communication and emotions, as a result of which they prefer not to ask for it.
7. The child likes to repeat
Autistic children love repetition and repetitive movements. Swinging, turning, tightening and relaxing their arms and legs and rotating their wrists are examples of movements that are soothing and so they keep repeating them, because they feel safe that way.
8. The child does not participate in fantasy play.
Everyone knows: children have a beautiful and wild fantasy. The most extraordinary stories are conceived, told and played. Usually, this develops around 2 or 3 years old. Autistic children, however, do this rarely or not at all and you will almost never catch them playing a fantasy game, like feeding a doll or playing princess. In addition, they prefer to do activities on their own, such as putting toys in the right order. Do you recognize one or more of these signals regarding your child? Then make an appointment with the doctor to have him or her tested for the autism spectrum disorder.