Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Warning Signs of Autism

April is Autism awareness month, so we will be spending time this month educating about autism.  Since autism presents itself differently in every child, there are no set checklists to tell definitively if your child is on the Autism spectrum.  There are, however, warning signs.  Here are some signs that your child may have autism.     
No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
No babbling by 12 months
No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
No words by 16 months
No ...meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age
Play with toys in a non-functional way Ex of this might be
*lining up cars instead of pushing them around/crashing them/or having them "go"
preoccupation with spinning items, mouthing items, moving fingers or items in front of their eyes or watching out of the corner of the eye
 inconsistent response to name

obsession with particular item (or style of item) or topic
 over reactive or under responsive to sensory stimulation
 lack of showing or sharing
disconnect in relations with others, lack of reciprocity, and/or "seems like they are in their own world"
It is important to note that other developmental delays or trauma can create some of these challenges as well. I will try to do posts on typical development of play skills so help highlight the differences.
I talk a lot about ENGAGEMENT. Not in a task, but with the world. If you are trying to interact with your child and you could stop, get up and walk away and it wouldn't change what your child is doing at all (they wouldn't look up, reference you, fuss, or attempt to get your attention) and this is frequently the way that interactions with your child are (they could take it or leave it when it comes to interaction).... then start asking questions. 

If your child is displaying some of these "red flags", talk to your doctor about the possibility that your child may be on the autism spectrum.

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