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signs of autism in tod­dlers l autism tod­dler l does my tod­dler have autism l autis­tic tod­dler l signs your tod­dler is not autistic

The ear­ly years of a child’s life can be a gru­elling but reward­ing expe­ri­ence. As you man­age to pull your­self up to your child’s first full night of sleep, what if your child is not reach­ing the mile­stones oth­er chil­dren are reaching? The devel­op­ment of any child is often unique, and it’s not always an indi­ca­tion of any­thing when a child lags behind in one area for a short while. Not going to bed, or refus­ing to eat break­fast, are just part of the package. How­ev­er, chil­dren with autism spec­trum dis­or­der (ASD) will often express dif­fi­cul­ties in their ear­ly learn­ing. Most com­mon­ly, these dif­fi­cul­ties will be cen­tred around social­iza­tion and the direct devel­op­ment of their lan­guage skills. With so much uncer­tain­ty, we explored the ques­tion: How do you know if your child is devel­op­ing autism?

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Eye on the Signs – Recognizing Autism

Chil­dren who are devel­op­ing autism spec­trum dis­or­der will express a vari­ety of signs. While these behav­iours are all part of the con­di­tion, it’s impor­tant to remem­ber: No two chil­dren with ASD will have the same symp­toms. The nature of the con­di­tion can be vast­ly dif­fer­ent between children. Due to this com­plex­i­ty, here are some of the social, behav­iour­al, and com­mu­ni­ca­tion dif­fi­cul­ties that a child devel­op­ing ASD may begin to exhib­it. Med­ical pro­fes­sion­als are clear; how­ev­er, some of these alone can sim­ply be a child devel­op­ing nor­mal­ly, which is a path of many pit­falls by nature. Remem­ber, do not take a sin­gle sign of autism as a diag­no­sis. Instead, use it as a sig­nal to pur­sue a physi­cian, per­haps if you believe your child is devel­op­ing ASD.

signs of autism in toddlers l autism toddler l does my toddler have autism l autistic toddler l signs your toddler is not autistic

 

Behavioural Difficulties

  • Doesn’t acknowl­edge pain as much as oth­er children.
  • Likes to keep with­in a rou­tine, and have a sense of order in their life. That can cause the child to be very upset if this order is affected.
  • Can devel­op a sen­si­tiv­i­ty to smells, bright lights, cer­tain tex­tures, and touch.
  • Often will use their vision in pecu­liar ways, such as not look­ing direct­ly at objects or star­ing at a spot for a long time.
  • Has a habit of rock­ing, swing­ing, fid­dling with their hands, walk­ing on their toes, or even flap­ping. These are con­sid­ered some of the most stereo­typ­i­cal signs that devel­op in chil­dren with ASD.

signs of autism in toddlers l autism toddler l does my toddler have autism l autistic toddler l signs your toddler is not autistic

 

Communication Difficulties

  • Will rarely point at objects, and can often get frus­trat­ed when their needs are not met despite not com­mu­ni­cat­ing correctly.
  • Can have a hard time shar­ing with oth­er chil­dren, espe­cial­ly with objects the child may own. It’s not uncom­mon for chil­dren to strug­gle with this. How­ev­er, ASD can cause this learn­ing expe­ri­ence to be prone to mas­sive outbursts.
  • Dif­fi­cul­ty learn­ing words, most notably past 16 months of age.
  • Will not respond to their name, but will still be seen respond­ing to the sounds around them (Such as cars on the street, or the TV.)
  • Will often par­rot oth­er adults, repeat­ing the exact words they just said with no understanding. 
  • Has trou­ble want­i­ng to com­mu­ni­cate with oth­ers, and will often search out solitude.
  • Will not hold a con­ver­sa­tion, and attempt to sim­ply drift away or imme­di­ate­ly lose inter­est if some­one tries to engage them in one.
  • Does not use toys, or oth­er objects, as peo­ple in their pre­tend play.
  • Will often mix pro­nouns up, such as not cor­rect­ly iden­ti­fy­ing them­selves as “I” and oth­ers as “You.”

signs of autism in toddlers l autism toddler l does my toddler have autism l autistic toddler l signs your toddler is not autistic

 

Social Difficulties

  • Has trou­ble with eye con­tact and will often avoid it if they can.
  • Will not show con­cern for things that oth­er chil­dren will emo­tion­al­ly respond to quick­ly. Such as a child get­ting hurt or a per­son is yelling around them.
  • Iso­lat­ed, with no effort, or inter­est, in mak­ing friends.
  • Will often not use the right facial expres­sions, and not respond to facial expres­sions shown to them. Such as a par­ent smil­ing, or being upset.
  • Will not look at things point­ed at, often appear­ing to ignore what peo­ple want them to look at.
  • Is unable to under­stand what oth­ers are feel­ing, or respond to height­ened emo­tion direct­ed at them.
  • Will not bring objects of inter­est (Such as a favourite toy, or nice rock they found) to any­body else to show.

signs of autism in toddlers l autism toddler l does my toddler have autism l autistic toddler l signs your toddler is not autistic

 

The Development of Autism in Children

It can be dif­fi­cult for par­ents to know if the devel­op­ment of their child is nor­mal or begin­ning to show signs of ASD. With the nature of a child’s devel­op­ment, it’s not always easy to see what is a nor­mal hur­dle of devel­op­ment or a sign of some­thing more. signs of autism in toddlers l autism toddler l does my toddler have autism l autistic toddler l signs your toddler is not autistic

signs of autism in toddlers l autism toddler l does my toddler have autism l autistic toddler l signs your toddler is not autistic

Here we explore what the devel­op­ment of a child with ASD may look like in the ear­ly months.

Between 0 – 12 Months of Age

  • If the child is devel­op­ing nor­mal­ly, they will exhib­it no prob­lem respond­ing to their name being called. 
  • A child devel­op­ing ASD may not respond, and you could begin to have dif­fi­cul­ty get­ting the atten­tion of your newborn.
  • Will ignore repeat­ed calls of their name, even if it’s with­in their line of sight.

Between 12 – 18 Months of Age

  • Your child may be behind on their lan­guage skills, and not show­ing an inter­est in pick­ing up new words and using them.
  • Will point and ges­ture at things, often get­ting upset, as they do not pos­sess the lan­guage skills to com­mu­ni­cate their needs.
  • May begin to par­rot the words on TV or oth­er media, and not pay much atten­tion to delayed speech direct­ed at them.

Between 18 – 24 Months of Age

  • At this age, it is nor­mal for chil­dren to begin to bring objects to their par­ents. That is a social skill of shar­ing, and shared enjoy­ment, that most chil­dren devel­op at this age.
  • A child devel­op­ing ASD will be reluc­tant to show any­thing to their par­ents, and will often be seen qui­et­ly and pri­vate­ly play­ing with their toys alone. 
  • If a par­ent might include them­selves in their child’s play­time, the child will not make eye con­tact and begin to grow upset with an inva­sion of their play space.

signs of autism in toddlers l autism toddler l does my toddler have autism l autistic toddler l signs your toddler is not autistic

Your Child and ASD – When Not to Worry

For all par­ents, it’s impos­si­ble not to com­pare the devel­op­ment of your child to oth­ers even­tu­al­ly. If it doesn’t come up in con­ver­sa­tion, par­ents will sub­tly be look­ing at oth­ers to make sure their kid is devel­op­ing along the same tracks. It’s impor­tant that all par­ents under­stand that the growth of a child, espe­cial­ly in the first two years, can be vast­ly dif­fer­ent from child to child. The nature of this devel­op­ment is often not a reflec­tion of the par­ent, but instead the sim­ply the child’s nor­mal growth. One symp­tom of ASD, a lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion at 18 months, can also be a hur­dle that chil­dren with­out ASD may strug­gle with. The same can be said for many signs, such as not shar­ing, ignor­ing their par­ents, iso­lat­ing them­selves, and grow­ing con­fused about adult facial expressions. So, when is the time to wor­ry? With so much uncer­tain­ty, it may feel impos­si­ble to know if your child is devel­op­ing ASD.

signs of autism in toddlers l autism toddler l does my toddler have autism l autistic toddler l signs your toddler is not autistic

Trust in Your Doctor

signs of autism in toddlers l autism toddler l does my toddler have autism l autistic toddler l signs your toddler is not autistic If you are begin­ning to wor­ry that your child may be devel­op­ing ASD, then it’s impor­tant to talk with your child’s pedi­a­tri­cian. There is nev­er any harm in mak­ing sure, and you shouldn’t keep your chil­dren at home under the mis­guid­ed assump­tion that they may not have the answers for you. There are a vari­ety of ways a pedi­a­tri­cian can con­firm or deny your con­cerns. With an arse­nal of scan­ning equip­ment and tests, they can work to find out if your child is begin­ning to devel­op ASD. Even if they can­not pro­vide you clear answers, they can begin to work with you to find the best way to care for your child and help you keep an eye on any symp­toms that may develop.

signs of autism in toddlers l autism toddler l does my toddler have autism l autistic toddler l signs your toddler is not autistic

signs of autism in toddlers l autism toddler l does my toddler have autism l autistic toddler l signs your toddler is not autistic

Now you Know

Now that we have explored the nature of autism spec­trum dis­or­der (ASD), the symp­toms that may devel­op, the signs in ear­ly growth, and how you may han­dle a diag­no­sis. You are now equipped with all the knowl­edge you need to iden­ti­fy signs of autism in your child today. It’s always impor­tant to remem­ber: Trust your gut, you know your child best. While it is always good to rely on use­ful infor­ma­tion, the high­est author­i­ty of a child is always the parents. Nobody under­stands your child bet­ter than you, and if you feel some­thing is off, then pur­sue a doctor’s opin­ion to confirm. Shar­ing is Caring! Don’t for­get to share this arti­cle with oth­ers who may need to know the signs of ASD in ear­ly development.
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