Autism spectrum disorder or simply, Autism is a complex neurological behavioral condition that affects social interaction, language, and communication skills. Autism spectrum disorder is not a single disorder. The sheer diversity of symptoms, their severity of how people are affected with Autism, and the challenges they face.
“If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve met one person with Autism”
– Dr. Stephen Shore
The signs and symptoms of Autistic people vary a lot from each other.
Signs of ASD
In general, Autistic people might have behavioral issues such as displaying repetitive behaviors, having impulsivity and compulsive behaviors, inappropriate social interactions, self-harm, and poor eye contact. They might have cognitive issues such as attention deficit, learning disability, speech problems, and others. Their psychological issues might include being unaware of other’s emotions, getting depressed, having anxiety, being sensitive to sound, and so on.
The socialization problems that autistic people might face include the following.
- Difficulty using non-speech behaviors for social interaction
- Failure to develop peer relationships
- Lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements
- Lack of social or emotional responding
The communication problems that autistic people might face include the following.
- Having a delay or lack of spoken language
- Difficulties with starting or continuing a conversation
- Inflexible and repetitive use of language
- Lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play
The behavioral problems that autistic people might face include the following.
- Rigidly following non-functional routines
- Obsessions with inflexible and limited interests
- Obsessions with parts of the objects
- Inflexible and repetitive movements – Self -stimulatory behaviors
Every Autistic child is unique in his/her own way with the symptoms and behaviors. Understanding their needs is the main key. Once you know the right levers to turn, you can unlock the doors of their true potential.
Symptoms of ASD
Each child defines Autism in their own way, with their set of symptoms. Early intervention can really help kids with Autism in managing those symptoms. Though the signs of Autism are clearly identified in kids around 18 months to 22 months of age, there are some early signs through which the baby can be identified as being “At risk” of Autism.
“Autism doesn’t define me, I define Autism”
The symptoms of Autism spectrum disorder can be observed in children at different age levels. The below are some of the observable features of autism in children at various age milestones.
Newborn to 5 months
- Does not respond to name
- May avoid people’s gaze
- Delayed smile or does not smile
- Avoid social interaction
- Cries often
- Unusual visual fixation
- Lack of age-appropriate sound development
- Delayed intentional communication (having no expressions, not enthusiastic in gaining parents attention)
- Decreased interest in interaction (interest in objects than people)
- Infrequent babbling
- Infrequent vocalization in response to the caregiver
- Not looking at the face of the interactive partner
- Infrequent matching of facial expressions of the caregiver.
- Odd and unusual movement patterns
- Doesn’t seem to feel pain
- Doesn’t like cuddling
- Decreased or absent non-verbal intentional communication (bye-bye, Hi, pointing)
- Decreased or absent social communication (showing, sharing, giving taking)
- Repetitive behaviour (flapping, twisting, screaming) or actions with the objects (playing with one same toy, concentrating only on a specific part of a toy)
- Decreased complexity of babbling or decreased variety in the types of sounds produced.
- Decreased use of vocalization in interactions (asking you to pick her up)
- Decreased comprehension of your non-verbal gestures (give it to me)
- Decreased imitation and response to name
- Decreased attempts to make you laugh
- Lacking non-verbal communication like gestures, poor facial expressions and no body language and does not point out objects to show their needs
- Problems following simple directions
14 – 16 months
- Decreased looking at caregiver when the caregiver is talking not necessarily to the child.
- Lack of onset of first words
- Fixated on videotapes
- Echoing what others say without social and communication intention
- Lack of teasing (offer you a toy and then retract it as they smile)
- Infrequent co-ordination of looking at you and smiling
- Imitation is reduced, atypical in form, or unpaired with social connection.
- Decreased frequency or length of taking a turn and exchanging objects (with or without objects)
- Repetitive behaviours or sensory seeking (pressing head against a caregiver, screaming, etc.)
- Decreased number of play sequences (putting a spoon in the cup and stirring, playing with dough, pouring water in the vessels and playing, etc.)
- Unusual eating and sleeping habits.
- Difficulty in expressing their needs and desires by words, gestures, or play
- Has hyperactivity ( excess physical activity, restless, not sitting at one place)
1.5 years to 4 years
- May have impaired imitation
- Avoid people’s gaze
- Poor language comprehension
- Not approaching the parents for solace and comfort, even when tired, hurt, or ill.
- Prefers to be alone
- Become anxious and irritable when there is a change in routine
- Lacking awareness of other people’s existence
- Failure to greet, take turns while playing, interacting with people
- Delayed gross motor skills and fine motor skills
- Delayed language development
- Lack of appropriate gestures
- Echolalia (Repetition of whatever is said)
- Unusual manner of talking (squeaky, low. or high pitch voice)
- Handle objects strangely ex: arranges in line, turns, twists, and spins the objects
- Have unusual body movements (spinning, flapping, jumping, head-banging, hand flicking, whole-body movements)
- Preoccupied with parts of objects (wheels of the car, nails on the door)
- Absence of pretend play
- Have an attachment to unusual objects (thread, wires, buttons, nails, etc.)
- Unreasonable insistence of following routines to precise detail
- Have difficulty in toilet training
4 years and older
- Lack of awareness of the feelings or even the existence of the others
- Absence of pretend play (dress-up toy, teacher, doctor, cooking, etc.)
- Increased hyperactivity
- Having unusual responses ( crying or laughing without reason)
- Indifferent to words or responds negatively to physical affection (like a hug, patting, kissing)
- Poor social interaction
- Not understanding the conversations of social interactions (taking a turn to speak, making request saying sorry)
- Shows little expressive language
- Fail to initiate or sustain conversations
- Meaningless speech
- Preoccupied with one or only a few interests and narrowed interests
- Insistence on sameness (playing in the same way and with the same toy always)
- Attachment to unusual objects (pen cap, rubber, wire, few sounds, and tastes )
- Showing marked distress over the change in routine and change in trivial aspects of the environment (position of the bag in the room)
- Follow routines in a rigid way
- Give unrelated answers to questions
- Avoid or resist physical contact
- Demonstrate little danger or safety awareness
- Have extreme anxiety and phobias
If at least half of the above symptoms are found, it is suggested to refer the child to Multidisciplinary evaluation for diagnosis. Our approach at the Wellness hub is based on crucial steps like diagnostic assessment, holistic therapy, and continuous improvement therapy. The progress of each client is reviewed periodically and the strategies are made or corrected, to customize according to their needs. Our team of highly experienced health professionals is undeniably a great asset in bringing those smiles to every parent. Their coordination and teamwork bring excellence to the output.