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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?

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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

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.

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 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.

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 with 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

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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