If you are a parent or a caregiver of a child and are here reading this blog, the chances are that you are already concerned about your child’s holistic development. Being doubtful that your child is different than other children is extremely bewildering and scary for any parent. However, many a time, just out of caution and care for their child, parents start to overthink. In fact, one of the positive sides to this is that many parents discover that they raised a false alarm, and everything was absolutely fine with their child. In such cases, going for a diagnosis proved to be the best decision as the parents felt at peace later on. On the other hand, when there is a positive diagnosis for Autism in a child, finding it as early as possible is best for the child as early intervention can help better deal with the symptoms of the disorder.
In order to decide whether to go for a diagnosis or not, you need to spot some early signs of Autism in a child, and accordingly do the needful. But one thing you need to keep in mind is that only a certified child psychiatrist is eligible to perform a diagnosis for Autism or any other neurotypical disorder. Autism, also called as ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) as it exhibits a spectrum of symptoms may present in a child between the age of 1-3 years. Autism with mild symptoms can present itself after the child starts to go to school and shows challenges in social interaction with peers. Here are some of the pointers that can help a parent spot early signs of ASD in a child.
- Gets agitated or easily startled because of background noise or sounds
Children having ASD have a significant aversion to any loud noise or sound. Hearing a loud noise may lead them to wince or grimace instead of showing natural reactions such as curiosity or surprise. If you see your child showing strong adverse reactions to the noise coming from, say, for instance, a pressure cooker whistle, television, vacuum cleaner, pay attention to the child. This can be an early indicator of autism in a child, and you may want to consider seeking the advice of an expert.
- Shows difficulty in making eye contact and understanding facial expressions
From quite an early age, kids start to learn and understand how to establish eye contact, smile when smiled at or wave and point towards objects they want or like. Also, when anything startling happens, children generally look towards their parents and try to understand and identify their facial expressions to know which emotions are conveyed. However, in the case of children having Autism, no reaction or inappropriate reaction is given as the child is unable to read the facial expressions of others. Also, making eye contact is difficult for children having ASD.
- Difficulty in Speech and language
Those having ASD generally find it hard to speak or communicate effectively, considering what is expected at their age. As an infant, if the child does not coo or babble as an attempt to respond or interact, it can be a red flag. By the age of 1, most of the toddlers start to speak 1-2 words; however, those with ASD may learn to communicate later in their life. Often those with ASD are seen to repeat words and phrases used by others after hearing them without actually being mindful about their correct usage. This another symptom that tells one should seek medical help for their child.
- Disinterest in holding up interaction with others
For any neurotypical child, there exist numerous bizarre things that catch and hold their attention. Such things leave them in a state of inquisitiveness, amusement, and awe. However, for someone having Autism spectrum disorder, perception and comprehension can be quite different. One may notice that their child responds on being called by their name, doesn’t point at objects, or try to show no interest in drawing your attention towards things of their interest, then it should be considered as a sign to head towards a child psychiatrist.
Other than these, if the child continues to lag in achieving their age-appropriate milestones for a lot of milestones, for instance, learns to speak, communicate, or develop motor skills much later as compared to kids of his/her age, prefers to play alone, etc it can be considered as a red flag. Also, children with ASD react at extreme levels to stimuli. For example, the slightest touch can make them flinch, and they may react as if someone has hit them hard. On the contrary, others on the spectrum may under response to sensory stimulation. For example, a child with ASD may write with exerting too much force on the page.
While these are some of the activities or traits that may suggest one has ASD or not, remember to only seek the help of a child psychiatrist for a diagnosis. Once the diagnosis has been made, and unfortunately turns out to be positive, try to stay strong for the best of your child. With medical advancement, several therapies and ways such as child counseling, Occupational therapy, speech therapy, special education are practiced for the treatment of Autism. A child counseling expert will help you with a treatment plan that can be customized as per your child’s developmental needs. Also, special education at a special needs school or an inclusive school can help the child learn and perform better at academics. As a parent or a caregiver of a child, believe in your child’s ability to improve and do better. With early intervention and guided therapies, children can thrive in their life.