How to detect autism in children


Autism is a spectrum of related disorders with a shared core of symptoms. It appears in infancy and early childhood causing developmental delays. The symptoms may range from mild or almost unnoticeable to severe. Some symptoms may manifest themselves while others may not.

The early signs in babies and toddlers include the following (Ref.

  • No eye contact such as looking at you when being fed or smiling when smiled at.
  • Does not respond to his or name or the sound of a familiar voice.
  • Does not follow objects visually or follow your gestures when you point things out.
  • Does not point or wave goodbye, or use gestures to communicate.
  • Does not make noises to get your attention.
  • Does not initiate or respond to cuddling or reach out to be picked up.
  • Does not imitate your movements and facial expressions.
  • Does not play with other people or share interest and enjoyment.
  • Does not notice or care if you hurt yourself or experience discomfort.

The signs and symptoms in older children include impaired social skills, speech and language difficulties, non-verbal communication difficulties, and inflexible behavior.

The following are signs of social difficulty:

  • Appears disinterested or unaware of others or whats going on around them.
  • Difficulty in connecting with others, playing or making friends.
  • Prefers not to be touched, cuddled or held.
  • Does not engage in group games, imitate others or use toys creatively.
  • Has trouble understanding feelings or talking about them.
  • Does not seem to hear when others talk to him or her.
  • Does not share interests or achievements with others.

ALSO READ: Living with autism 

Signs of speech and language difficulty:

  • Speaks in an abnormal tone of voice.
  • Repeats same words or phrases over and over.
  • Responds to questions by repeating them, rather than answering them.
  • Uses language incorrectly with grammatical errors.
  • Has difficulty communicating needs and desires.
  • Does not understand simple directions, statements or questions.
  • Takes what is said literally, misses humour, irony, sarcasm.

Signs of nonverbal communication difficulties:

  • Avoids eye contact
  • Uses facial expressions that don’t match what he or she is saying.
  • Does not follow on others facial expressions, gestures, tone of voice.
  • Makes few gestures, such as pointing.
  • Reacts unusually to sights, smells, textures, and sounds.
  • Abnormal posture, clumsiness or eccentric way of walking.

Signs of inflexibility:

  • Follows a rigid routine.
  • Has difficulty adapting to changes in the environment.
  • Unusual attachment to certain toys or objects.
  • Preoccupation with narrow topic of interest.
  • Spends long periods watching moving objects.
  • Repeats the same action or movements over and over again.

Have your child assessed and start a parent support group or join an existing one to help your child.

Dr Guru Kistnasamy

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