Autism affects approximately 1 in 54 children in the United States. Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong condition associated with various challenges. These challenges include repetitive behaviors, social skills, speech, and nonverbal communication.
In some children, autism is not detected until they reach school-age, however, there are early signs of autism in toddlers. Many young children begin to show symptoms after 12 months. Let’s take a closer look at 5 early signs of autism every parent should be aware of.
1. Unusual Reactions to Sensory Stimuli
Children with autism process their environments differently from other children. This can result in unexpected reactions to sensory stimuli such as noises, smells, appearances, and tastes.
Background noises such as the dishwasher or the microwave are pushed aside by neurotypical children. However, children with autism can struggle to filter out these sounds. For someone with autism, the washing machine in the basement can seem just prevalent as the conversation you’re trying to have right next to them.
Certain sensations can also be overwhelming. A lot of children with autism are averse to being touched lightly. To them, it might feel like being prickled. These reactions to stimuli can often result in challenging behaviors depending on how sensitive the child is to the sensation.
2. Speech and Language Difficulties
Autistic children struggle to communicate at the level expected for their age. During infancy, autistic children might not respond to their parents with the usual babble that young children produce. Sometimes autistic children have been known to babble during the early stages of infancy and then suddenly stop communicated entirely.
Most toddlers will be able to speak a word or two at around 12 months, however, most autistic children don’t start forming words until later on. Quite often, those who do speak often do so by mimicking sounds. As a result, they will repeat words and phrases that are often irrelevant to the context.
3. Lack of Empathy
One of the most notable traits of Autism is a lack of empathy. Where most of us use other people’s facial expressions to assess how they feel or what they might be thinking, this is not possible for someone with autism. Young children with Autism are likely to be insensitive towards others and demonstrate very little interest in socializing.
It can be beneficial to seek intervention when it comes to your child’s social needs. Check this out for more information.
4. Eye Contact and Emotions
Young children with autism are likely to avoid eye-contact. Neurotypical babies often stare into the eyes of their parents when they’re singing them a song or entertaining them with something. Children with autism don’t appear to respond to their caregiver in this way.
5. Doesn’t Engage in Imaginative Play
Around the ages of 2-3 children are likely to start ‘pretend play’. A young child might play mother to a doll or doctor to a teddy bear. Children with autism are unlikely to engage in imaginative play. They are more likely to use objects for their intended use later in life.
Watch Out for These Early Signs of Autism in Toddlers
Identifying the early signs of autism in toddlers is paramount to getting the right support. One of the most important things about raising a child with autism is getting support early on. This helps to create a structure for your child and learn more about their behaviors as they’re developing.
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