Baby Autism: Recognizing Symptoms and Early Signs

What are the early signs of autism ? This is a legitimate question for any parent who has noticed abnormal behavior in their child. Indeed, autism (or autism spectrum disorder) is the best known developmental disorder . It is also linked to abnormalities of antenatal or neurodevelopmental origins. Children with autism typically have difficulty in all three of these areas: language and communication , behavior , and social interactions .

Some children show symptoms of autism from an early age. Others normally enlarge for the first few months or years, then become aggressive or lose the language they have acquired. However, these signs are much more diverse and sometimes quite difficult to identify. Because each child has a unique behavior, discover in this article the most common symptoms .

Symptoms and early signs of autism

In general, it is difficult to know the first signs of autism since there are several disorders, depending on age and severity. It should be noted that autism is not a mental illness, but a neurodevelopmental disorder .

Signs of autism for children 0-6 months

  • The child is too calm or too excited
  • He seems fearful and prefers solitude
  • Don't express joy
  • He seems to have a vague or shifty gaze
  • Absence of babbling or little vocalization
  • Has a posture defect: limp or stiff baby

Signs of autism for children 6 to 12 months old

  • Your child does not respond to their first name
  • He does not imitate those around him (say "hello", "bravo" or "goodbye")
  • Absence of emotions when separated from you or reunited with you
  • He doesn't reach out his arms to you when you pick him up
  • Very sensitive to changes in the environment and does not appreciate physical contact
  • The child finds it difficult to fix his gaze or even avoidance
  • He babbles little

Signs of autism for children 12 to 24 months old

  • Absence or delay of language
  • He doesn't even try to gesture (doesn't point and refuses to wave)
  • He seems to ignore others and likes to be left alone
  • Absence of happy reactions to the arrival of parents
  • The child makes unusual body movements: swaying or rapid flapping of the hands

Signs of autism for children over 2 years old

  • The child is not interested in other children (he does not play)
  • Lack of interest in talking
  • Language whose purpose is not to communicate
  • Pronominal inversion (“you” instead of “I”)
  • Unusual way of speaking: flat voice or flat tone
  • He can't stand the slightest change in his environment.
  • He tends to repeat everything his entourage says
  • Becomes very aggressive without precaution
  • He refuses certain foods according to their texture

The role of parents

In reality, since ASD is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder, it gets worse over time. No one knows your child better than you. It is your daily vigilance and support that will allow you to discover certain exceptional behaviors in your child. If so, you should first make an appointment with your doctor or pediatrician. You will then be redirected to an autism healthcare professional in your area.

It is important that you act fairly quickly at the first suspicions of autistic tendencies. Indeed, a screening allows a care and a better accompaniment of the child. If the diagnosis is confirmed, your role as parents will be to support your child throughout his growth. Know that an autistic person must be accompanied throughout his life.

Because of the difficulties associated with autism disorders, children with autism learn less quickly in certain areas. As parents, you can implement certain procedures to facilitate the development of learning. Whether for the parents or for the autistic child himself, daily life looks like a challenge. You need patience and organization to accompany your child from an early age.

Which health professionals to turn to?

If your child shows some of these symptoms mentioned above, do not hesitate to consult a doctor. To get a diagnosis, you need to go to a medical specialist. Above all, you can contact the health professionals around you: general practitioner, pediatrician, neurologist, psychiatrist… These professionals will guide you in your first steps.

The medical specialist also assesses your child's development with structured consultations as well as psychometric tests. Based on these observations, he calls on professionals (speech therapist, psychomotrician, psychologist) who will complete the examinations in their field in order to refine the diagnosis.

You will be able to ask them questions, analyze their listening skills and their benevolence. Then you compare their fees, as some will charge you double the normal rate, which doesn't make up for a quality guarantee. When looking for an autism specialist, you can use autism associations or the ARC in your city to find an autism spectrum disorder doctor.

Screening to spot the signs?

There are screening and assessment tools that are designed just to spot warning signs in children with autism .

Here are the questionnaires available in France:

  • For children 16-30 months, M-Chat ( Modified Check-list for Autism in Toddlers ).
  • At the age of 4 years, the social communication questionnaire SCQ.
  • In adolescents without associated intellectual developmental disorder, the AQ ( Autism- spectrum Quotient ), ASSQ ( Autism Spectrum Screening Questionnaire ) and SRS-2 ( Social Responsiveness Scale ) questionnaires.

These forms are specific to the age of the person. In fact, early diagnosis is essential to the care of autistic children in order to limit the development of additional disabilities. Each test is intended to assess communication, social and behavioral skills, depending on the age of the candidates, children, adolescents or adults.

I hope this article has answered some of your questions. Feel free to share your experiences with us in the comments.

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