What Are Some Of The Early Signs Of Autism?
Updated January 02, 2019
Reviewer Laura Angers
Are you starting to notice that something is different about your child? Do you notice that they seem to have lost some of the capabilities that they once had? Do you notice that they aren't advancing in the same way that they should? Maybe you've noticed that they seem to struggle with normal interactions with people. No matter what you're noticing, if it seems different from what you expect or if it seems less advanced than children of a similar age it won't hurt for you to discuss things with your child's doctor.
What Is Autism?
Autism is a mental health disorder that affects as many as 1 in 68 children in America. But where we generally refer to 'autism,' we are referring to something called autism spectrum disorder. This disorder is called a spectrum because there are many children at all different severity levels. A child may have minor symptoms, but another child may have severe symptoms. Each of these children would still be considered to have a form of autism but in a slightly different way.
When we look at autism, we're looking at behaviors that interfere with what is considered 'normal' behavior, language skills, social skills, communication, and interests. A child with some form of autism spectrum disorder may have difficulty interacting with others and may have strange interests or strange behaviors. The child may experience any combination of these things and may also experience intellectual disabilities. Once again, however, these things may occur at different levels of severity. More serious versions are generally considered classic autism, while more mild forms are Asperger Syndrome or Pervasive Developmental Disorder.
Does My Child Have Autism?
If you suspect that your children may have autism or any type of developmental delay you should speak with your child's doctor first. Talk to someone as early as you can to make sure that your child is getting the level of support that they need and that they are getting started early. The earlier you start treatment for your child the more likely that they will be able to achieve full potential in the future. The personalized care that they receive is going to make a huge difference for their future, and that's going to require a doctor and mental health professional.
Symptoms of autism generally occur before the age of 3 and usually don't occur until at least 18 months. More commonly, however, children show the symptoms by the time they reach 24 months. Still, some may have symptoms very early in their life and others may not show symptoms until they are over 24 months. But it's less about when the symptoms start to occur. Rather, it's about the type of symptoms that occur and the severity of them. Children may also stop advancing or lose some abilities.
- Not responding to their name by one year
- Not pointing to objects by the age of 14 months
- Not playing pretend by the age of 18 months
- Not understanding someone else's feelings
- Repeating words and phrases
- Delayed language and speaking skills
- Avoiding eye contact
- Difficulty adapting to change
- Obsessive tendencies or interests
- Unusual reactions to senses
As your child starts to get older, you may start to notice some or all of these things. Keep in mind that some children achieve different skills a little early and some achieve them a little late. But you want to check in with your doctor if you notice anything that seems a little bit off. Your doctor will be able to let you know if everything is on track or if your child is showing some form of disability.
The doctor is always going to be your best resource, and they are going to be the one that can best tell you what you should expect your child to do and when. They can let you know when a developmental delay is nothing to be concerned about and when it is something serious that you want to look at closer. But it's going to be up to you to make sure you keep track of everything that your child does and how it seems to affect them overall.
An open and honest interaction with your child's doctor is going to make sure that they understand what is happening. Sometimes things can happen in a child's life that will cause them to be delayed in some ways. But sometimes there seems to be no sign of it. Work with your mental health professional as well when it comes time to find one. You want to let them know everything you can about what your child does and doesn't do when they aren't with the therapist because that's going to help them get even better treatment. Being open and honest with everyone is going to be the best possible opportunity for your child's future.
What Should You Do?
If you suspect that your child may have autism, it's essential that you speak with their doctor as soon as possible. Anything that you notice with your child that seems strange or different from what you expect or what is considered 'average' for a child of the same age should be discussed with the doctor. Your child's doctor will be able to help you better understand what your child is going through.
The doctor will be able to help you find out if what your child is experiencing is something to be concerned about. It's possible that they have an autism spectrum disorder or some other form of intellectual disability. By figuring this out early, you'll be able to help your child get the help that they need. By getting that help quickly, they can start the process of advancing and improving their skills. This means that they can potentially achieve a more normal life.
Talking with your child's doctor can also get you more information about parenting styles and skills you need to provide them the best care and best chance possible. It's going to take help from a mental health professional as well. A mental health professional will be able to talk to your child and then will be able to help them throughout their life. But it's going to take some time and a lot of effort on your part and the part of your child, which can be even more difficult for a child with autism.
Your Mental Health Professional
Finding a mental health professional isn't always an easy feat. Some people have difficulty finding someone that they think is doing the best job possible. But that is extremely important for their future. So what do you do? The best thing you can do is look for a high-quality therapist that can help your child. You will want to do some research and find out who the best therapists are. What may amaze you is that you're not limited to just therapists that are located in your area. Instead, you can look at therapists available online.
Online therapy is a relatively new thing, but it's a great way for your child to get the help that they need in a completely new way. BetterHelp is one place you can get online to find a therapist from anywhere in the country. You get a larger variety of different therapists to consider, and you get to connect with them in a much easier way. If your child has difficulty with new places, which is common with a child on the autism spectrum, getting them to a therapist's office can be difficult, but if you can introduce them to a therapist without leaving the place they feel most comfortable it can help them along.
With BetterHelp you'll be able to connect with a therapist located just about anywhere. You'll also be able to carry out each of the sessions completely online. All you need to do is log on to the website and set up the appointment. From there, you will be able to log on from any internet connected device to carry out the sessions. That means your child can sit in their favorite chair, in the comfortable spot on the couch where they feel most comfortable, and then they will be able to talk with a therapist.
If you're looking for help with your child you're going to want the best help you can get. It's going to take some hard work and effort, but if you find the best mental health professional you can, you'll be able to help your child. You can make sure that your child gets the proper treatment they need to achieve their best potential. After all, it's important that your child can reach out to someone and it can be difficult for them to do that with a parent. Sometimes a therapist can help them better than you would think and it's up to you to do everything you can to help them.