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These Are the Common Signs and Symptoms of Autism
Autism Symptoms and Warning Signs in Babies and Children
Symptoms of autism in babies and toddlers are usually delays in learning, developing language, and communication skills, or behavioral problems. Common early warning signs are difficulty responding to one’s name when they are addressed and lack of eye contact, explainsThomas Frazier II, PhD, chief scientist at Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization.
Children who have an autism spectrum disorder might also display very specific, sometimes intense, interests in subjects that others might not, addsJeremy Veenstra-Vanderweele, MD, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. In a conversation, a child with autism might return, intently, to one topic over and over. That was the case for one child Dr. Veenstra-Vanderweele worked with who had a very strong interest in sharks and did not talk about any other topic.
Repetitive behaviors or following the same patterns over and over can also be indicative of an autism spectrum disorder.
“A lot of these kids display ritualistic behaviors. Certain things have to happen the same way each time,” Veenstra-Vanderweele says. “They might only feel comfortable in your car going the same way to school every day, for instance.”
Other signs that could indicate a baby or toddler has autism include: (2)
- Either not smiling at others or making eye contact by about 6 months
- Not making vocal sounds or other nonverbal communication by 6 months
- Not beginning to babble, use gestures to communicate, or responding to their name when called by age 1
- Not speaking any words by about 16 months
- Not speaking in phrases by age 2
- Losing previously acquired speech, communication, or social skills
Other potential signs of autism at any age include:
- Avoiding eye contact or preferring to be alone
- Struggling to understand others’ feelings
- Not speaking or having trouble developing language skills
- Repeating words or phrases over and over
- Getting upset by minor changes in one’s routine or surroundings
- Having limited interests
- Performing repetitive behaviors or gestures
- Having unusual or intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights, or colors
It’s important to note that not all children with autism will exhibit all of these behaviors. And some children will start showing signs of the disorder later than others. For instance, children with the rare childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD), or “Heller’s syndrome,” develop normally until age 3 or 4, and then start to lose motor, language, social and other skills they have already learned. (3)
This disorder was reclassified to be on the spectrum of autism disorders, according to themost recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013.
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