Autism is a neurological disorder which impairs social emotional and behavioral development of a child. Autism symptoms in toddlers can be identified between 18 months to 2 years of age.
Children with autism face serious difficulties in interacting and communicating with others. They also show intense disinterest in particular things or topics.
In the past it was difficult to diagnose autism. With new studies and research, experts are getting familiar with this disorder in toddlers. No two patients with autism have the same symptoms. This is the reason that autism is also known as a broad spectrum disorder. The severity of this symptom varies from person to person. One may require a caregiver for the entire life while another may function relatively normally.
Causes Of Autism:
Till now the real cause of this disorder has not been known, though 1 in 100 kids develops this disorder.
- Scientists believe that autism is connected with genes and environment influence.
- Environmental reason includes babies born prematurely, which means babies born before 33 weeks are likely to develop autism.
- Autism is more likely to develop in premature girls than in boys.
- Other environmental influence includes older parents, poor diet during pregnancy and infection. Chemicals can also contribute for autism.
- Fragile X is the reason for autism. Children with fragile X develop autism.
- Studies also show that children born less than 2 years after their sibling show signs of autism.
[ Read: Ear Infection In Toddlers ]
5 Signs Of Autism In Toddlers:
Here is a quick modified checklist for autism in toddlers for parents to keep a watch on:
1. Slow Development:
Autistic child develops differently from other kids.
- Their growth gets slowed down and their communication skill gets limited to few words and gestures.
- Their facial expression and body language is also different.
2. Avoid Eye Contact:
The other most significant sign of autism is that toddlers generally do not make eye contact with their parents even if they are called by their names.
- They tend to have an unusual gaze.
- Show lack of interest in their surroundings.
3. Repetitive Behavior:
Some children, who have autism, get extremely attached with their daily routine activities.
- They have a specific way of doing things.
- Disrupting their routine can cause serious display of aggression, like head banging, rocking body constantly, flapping and henceforth.
The most vital signs of early autism in toddler are their obsession.
- Toddlers with autism tend to get obsessed with any particular items like food, toys.
- They tend to play with one particular toy and reject others.
- Also in terms of food they tend to eat same kind of food over and over again and may tend to get choosy on certain food items.This obsession is due to difficulty in adapting new things or change.
- They prefer doing same thing than choosing new things. An autistic child tends to focus on detail of an object and also likes to arrange items in a straight line.
5. Social Interaction:
Children with autism show less interest in any activities with parents or other toddlers.
- They have difficulty in understanding as well as hearing.
- They do not smile much, hate cuddling and making friends, dislike playing with other toddlers, do not show any separation anxiety when separated from mother, love to stay alone, attack other children for no reason and like to be independent.
[ Read: Auditory Processing Disorder In Kids ]
Checklist For Parents:
Autism treatment, particularly in communication and interaction area, is very important.
- Treatment should begin early to help increase language development and other social skills.
- Therapies are recommended by most psychiatrists. Behavioral therapy is one of them.
- Autism treatment doesn’t provide or require drastic change. In fact changes are not good when working with autistic child. It can cause anxiety or behavioral outburst.
- You need to set a routine to let your kid know what is expected next. This is a part of treatment.
- A tight schedule will make your kid feel safe.
- If you send your kid to a special school, make sure he feels safe and relaxed.
- With difficulties in communicating, an autistic child doesn’t have proper command over the language skills. Words gets mixed up and become less meaningful. With no thoughts and feeling, they express their thoughts in pictorial form.
- Pictures and note card can be a visual treat for your child to communicate with you. To achieve speech a visual aid is a must.
- If the child gets frustrated or can’t put what needs to be said into words, pictures create an easy way to communicate.
- Another way to help in communication skill is to pay attention on what the child is saying. Autistic child often uses repetitive words. These can be related to something your child is trying to communicate with you. It is up to you to find out what those words mean. It is important that you keep track of their phrase and understand when they are using it.
- You can keep track of what phrase your toddler is using by taking notes. Soon you will see a pattern.
- Keeping a structured home environment is important when treating autism.
- Do not get frustrated, your frustration can make the child hyper.
- Positive reinforcement and praise can help in treating autism.
[ Read: Infant Vision Development ]
Toddlers will start to display the signs of autism as early as 18 months of age. It is important for parents to recognize them. Early detection of this disorder minimizes the negativity of autism.
Do share your views on toddlers with autism.
Reference : 1 , 2
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