What Are the Signs of Autism in Children?

As the parent of three autistic kids and likely autistic myself, this is a topic that is near and dear to me. Autism is often seen by mainstream society as something broken about a kid, needing a cure, but I know that there is nothing wrong with autistic kids, they don't need fixing; what they need is help figuring out what support systems they need growing up in and living in a world not geared towards autistic people. If you suspect one of your children may be autistic, read on to see what this reader has to share about that.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), often shortened to autism, is something more and more recognized, with over a million autistic children worldwide. It is a neurological difference that affects social communication, certain behaviors, and causes people to have higher support needs.

The exact causes of autism are unknown, but there is strong evidence that it is genetic, with children being much more likely to be diagnosed with autism if they have other autistic family members.

Usually, the signs of autism appear before the age of three and they generally continue throughout the person’s entire life. However, as people get older, they learn to manage their symptoms and figure out what support systems they need in order to function well. Additionally, early intervention with non harmful types of therapies such as occupational and speech therapy can be helpful and make the rest of their lives easier. 

The diagnosis of autism may involve a range of tests. The exact testing that is used depends on the type of autism that is suspected (autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)).

The self-scoring for M-CHAT is a screening tool that can be used by parents to assess their child’s likelihood of being autistic. If a child is identified as being likely autistic, a further assessment would be required by a healthcare professional to confirm an ASD diagnosis.

Developmental monitoring can also be used to observe how a child grows and develops as they get older. Ongoing monitoring enables parents and healthcare professionals to identify whether a child is meeting the neurotypical developmental milestones that children reach in early childhood and figure out how best to support them.

In order for parents to either take the M-CHAT or get a professional evaluation of their child, they must first recognize some of the signs of autism. Otherwise, they might never take these initial steps to get a diagnosis and might not know how to help their autistic child.

Being aware of the common signs and symptoms of ASD is essential for parents to know when their child needs further assessment. The common signs of autism can be split into different developmental categories, each of which poses a unique set of challenges for the child.

Communication Skills

Common communication problems in autistic children include:
  • Delayed speech and language development
  • Repeating the same words and phrases
  • Difficultly using the right pronouns
  • Difficulty staying on topic in a conversation
  • Having trouble putting their thoughts into words
  • Having difficulty expressing their needs and emotions
  • Inability to recognize when somebody is joking or being sarcastic
Social Skills

Autistic children may struggle to interact with other kids. These difficulties may be present from as young as 8-10 months old. Here are some common social symptoms that might appear:
  • Lack of interest in other people
  • Preferring to be alone
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Shying away from physical touch
  • Being unable to understand or distinguish between emotions

Behavioral patterns in autistic children may include:
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Constant fidgeting or pacing
  • Aggression towards themselves and others
  • Lack of concentration and short attention span
  • Hand flapping
  • Clumsiness
If you suspect your child is autistic, finding a practitioner that can diagnose your child will help open doors. This will help your child get therapies and support to help them thrive, and knowledge of them being autistic can really help them emotionally as they grow up, understanding the unique differences in their brains.

Do you have any autistic kids? What did you pick up on to help you realize you needed to do an autism assessment on them?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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