Everyone is quirky in some way or the other. Many autism signs in young children that usually make parents a little nervous tend to go away in time.
In other cases, unique behaviours are embraced or ridiculed by family members, neighbours, friends, teachers, colleagues and even strangers. When the peculiarities affect the progress of a person’s life, then there is a problem.
As children grow older, these quirks may evolve into a roller coaster ride of problems with learning, communicating, interacting and progressing. This is when parents realise that there were autism signs all along.
Autism signs in younger children
Children show autism signs from very young which parents may dust under the rug. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there are possible “red flags” for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
“On the list, other than the obvious hand flapping, body rocking and repeating of words or phrases, there are some autism signs that adults may pass off as “nothing to worry about”.
Some signs are not being able to respond to their name by 12 months of age, not point at objects to show interest, avoid eye contact and want to be alone. As they grow older, they have delayed speech and language or give unrelated answers to questions. They get upset by minor changes and have obsessive interests.
Autism signs in older children
When older children do not behave as “normal” children do, the autism signs become apparent. Social skills top the list as they are important for older children to make friends and participate in group activities.
Children lacking social skills avoid eye-contact, prefer to play alone and do not share interests with other children. They only interact to achieve a desired goal, have inappropriate facial expressions and do not understand personal space boundaries.
Communication issues relate to having delayed speech and language skills and talking in a robot-like or sing-song voice. Children may not understand jokes, sarcasm or teasing.
Also, children may have unusual interests and behaviours. They line up toys, play with them the same way every time and like parts of toys such as wheels. They are very organised, get upset by minor changes, have obsessive interests and have to follow certain routines.
They may be hyperactive, impulsive, aggressive and have temper tantrums. They may have a short attention span, unusual eating and sleeping habits and unusual mood or emotional reactions. They lack fear or have more fear than expected and have unusual reactions to things they see, hear, smell, taste and feel.
What parents should do
Parents who suspect autism signs in their children should visit their local centre for an evaluation. They need to educate themselves as much as possible about autism with free information available on the internet, health centres and libraries.
Parents must also understand that autistic children have special needs. And, the sooner these needs are addressed the easier it is for the children to live more comfortable lives.