Early Signs of Autism

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By dr. gromatzky
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. Martínez-Pedraza, Frances de L., and Alice S Carter. “Autism spectrum disorders in young children.” Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America vol. 18,3 (2009): 645-63. doi:10.1016/j.chc.2009.02.002
  • 2. Ozonoff, Sally et al. “The onset of autism: patterns of symptom emergence in the first years of life.” Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research vol. 1,6 (2008): 320-8. doi:10.1002/aur.53
  • 3. Webb, Sara Jane, and Emily J H Jones. “Early Identification of Autism: Early Characteristics, Onset of Symptoms, and Diagnostic Stability.” Infants and young children vol. 22,2 (2009): 100-118. doi:10.1097/IYC.0b013e3181a02f7f
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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that typically includes a combination of abnormalities in: how the brain processes and learns, language, communication, socialization and emotions, behavior, and sensory sensitivities. It is important to spot the signs of Autism so that treatment can begin early in order to avoid long term complications.1Martínez-Pedraza, Frances de L., and Alice S Carter. “Autism spectrum disorders in young children.” Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America vol. 18,3 (2009): 645-63. doi:10.1016/j.chc.2009.02.002 Treatment should begin with a suspicion of Autism and not wait for a diagnosis.2Ozonoff, Sally et al. “The onset of autism: patterns of symptom emergence in the first years of life.” Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research vol. 1,6 (2008): 320-8. doi:10.1002/aur.53

Using a variety of tools, formal screening is performed at ages 18 months and 24 months but some children can be identified before this.2Ozonoff, Sally et al. “The onset of autism: patterns of symptom emergence in the first years of life.” Autism research : official journal of the International Society for Autism Research vol. 1,6 (2008): 320-8. doi:10.1002/aur.53 A diagnosis made at age 2 or 3 is usually more definite.3Webb, Sara Jane, and Emily J H Jones. “Early Identification of Autism: Early Characteristics, Onset of Symptoms, and Diagnostic Stability.” Infants and young children vol. 22,2 (2009): 100-118. doi:10.1097/IYC.0b013e3181a02f7f Autism is a tough diagnosis to make because of the variations in how children develop. Let your pediatrician know if you suspect Autism and perhaps request to see a specialist.

1. Social Skills

80-93% of those with Autism display difficulties with social interaction making it one of the stronger early identifiers for Autism.1Martínez-Pedraza, Frances de L., and Alice S Carter. “Autism spectrum disorders in young children.” Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America vol. 18,3 (2009): 645-63. doi:10.1016/j.chc.2009.02.002 Infants will show difficulties with socialization by not making eye contact, not responding to people speaking, and making little to no effort in play or interaction. They also tend to smile less, to not have many facial expressions, and to not respond to touch. It has been shown that infants who do not respond to their names at the ages of 8-12 months may be diagnosed with Autism later in life; however, this is not an absolute indication of Autism.3Webb, Sara Jane, and Emily J H Jones. “Early Identification of Autism: Early Characteristics, Onset of Symptoms, and Diagnostic Stability.” Infants and young children vol. 22,2 (2009): 100-118. doi:10.1097/IYC.0b013e3181a02f7f

Social interactions of toddlers that may indicate Autism include limited attention or reaction to normal social happenings, faces, and voices along with less eye contact, and preference for isolation vs. social activities.3Webb, Sara Jane, and Emily J H Jones. “Early Identification of Autism: Early Characteristics, Onset of Symptoms, and Diagnostic Stability.” Infants and young children vol. 22,2 (2009): 100-118. doi:10.1097/IYC.0b013e3181a02f7f Other features that may be hindered include facial expressions, seeking a familiar adult to share an emotion, and also looking to where another person is looking.1Martínez-Pedraza, Frances de L., and Alice S Carter. “Autism spectrum disorders in young children.” Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America vol. 18,3 (2009): 645-63. doi:10.1016/j.chc.2009.02.002

Autism

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