Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder that can affect an individual’s communication and behavioral skills.
Autism is considered a developmental disorder since symptoms of the disorder are usually visible within the first two years of a person’s life. While treatment for autism can take place at any point during an individual’s life, beginning to treat autism as early as possible can better equip your child with the skills needed to accomplish all they set out to do. As a parent, ensuring your child is given every opportunity to go forth and succeed in life is paramount. Each case of autism is different, and only by working with experienced professionals are you able to give your child the proper treatment they deserve. Learn how to spot the early physical and psychological signs of autism in your child to ensure their complete well-being.
Spotting Autism Early
Understanding what autism looks like is critical to determining whether or not your child may be on the spectrum. Although autism is difficult to diagnose prior to 24 months, your child can demonstrate signs of it as early as 6 months. Treating autism as early as possible encourages the brain to develop properly before crucial developmental traits are engrained. Autism is characterized by difficulty interacting and socializing with others, in addition to developing obsessive interests and repetitive behaviors.
Autism is not a singular disorder that comes in an identical package, but is, instead, a spectrum of similar disorders that share common symptoms. Thus, children on the autism spectrum will have varying impairments and challenges to overcome. These challenges should not be viewed as an impediment to your child, but merely obstacles that need to be overcome. Through proper love and caring, your child will be primed to accomplish great things. While the amount that autism can impede a child’s development will vary, all those affected by autism are typically demonstrating three similar behavioral traits:
- Verbal & non-verbal communication
- Interacting with & relating to others
- Rationalizing emotions & feelings
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Though the importance of early intervention is a widely understood concept amongst parents, roughly 50,000 children with autism end up becoming adults without any sort of treatment. If left untreated, individuals with autism have an immensely harder time forming relationships and functioning on a day-to-day basis, and can even be liable to physical ailments, such as seizures and sleeping problems. This makes treating autism as early as possible even more important. An autism diagnosis doesn’t have to mean the end of the world, as autism should always be treated as a difference, not a drawback. Providing your child with the proper loving, care and support they need will ensure they’re able to live a purposeful life.
When Does Autism Develop?
The most apparent symptoms of autism are normally visible between the ages of 2 and 3, though signs can appear as early as 18 months in some instances. As a parent, you know your child better than anyone, which makes you the most qualified to determine whether your child may be on the autism spectrum. Pay close attention to the behavior of your child and know how to recognize what the early signs of autism look like so that you’re well equipped to begin the treatment process if needed.
It can be easy to write off your child’s questionable behavior as part of the natural growing process, as children who don’t have autism can demonstrate symptoms of the disorder. However, the last thing you want to do as a parent is hinder the healthy growth of your dear child. An autism diagnosis simply means your child is different and will need to learn in different ways than others. Autism treatment is a great way for your child to learn how to interact with the world. It encourages them to be the best possible version of themselves, which is all you could ever ask for. If you’re concerned about your child and their development early on, the best thing to do is take the necessary precautions and get an informed evaluation from a professional. That way, if your child does have autism, you’ll be able to begin treatment for the disorder during these crucial years for development.
What Do Early Signs of Autism Look Like?
Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder are generally characterized by developmental delays in your child. This means that your child is not reaching certain developmental milestones, such as learning to crawl, walk, and speak, among others. If you notice that your child is hitting their developmental milestones much later than expected, it’s possible that they have some form of childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD), which also requires intensive treatment and long-term care. The formative years of a child’s cognitive, social, and physical development take place between the ages of 1-8. During these years, and even beyond, you should be taking note of your child’s gradual development and ensure they’re hitting important milestones at the proper age. While it’s perfectly fine for your child to be slightly behind other children when it comes to walking and/or talking, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and receive a second opinion from a doctor if you have any doubts. Some of the most obvious signs of autism in your child include:
- Inability to maintain eye contact/respond to social queues (smiling, hugging, etc.)
- Not responding to familiar voices and sounds
- Trouble communicating via words or gestures
- Volatile changes in behavior and moods
- Failure to babble by the age of 1
Your child is special, complete with their own set of unique personality traits and characteristics that you as a parent will come to know and treasure. Loving your child and making sure they feel capable of succeeding in life should come naturally to you. Take time to understand how your child views the world so you can position them to thrive in it! If you are at all concerned that your child has an autistic disorder, have your child evaluated by a trusted pediatrician. Treating autism early on can make all the difference for the development of your child.