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Help detect children at risk of autism earlier! “8 Basic Early Autism Signs”

By peptalkbox

Help detect children at risk of autism earlierAs of 2012, one in 50 kids between the ages of 6 and 17 had some form of autism, compared with one in 88 only five years earlier. Some recent studies suggest that, with early intervention, as many as one in five children on the autism spectrum can recover to the point where they are no longer considered autistic.

Behavioral, occupational and speech therapies may make the difference, and the key is timing! Detecting children at risk of autism as early as 6, 9, 12, 18, 24 and 30 months of age could be a life-changer. Unfortunately, most children with some form of autism are diagnosed at 5 or older, too late to benefit from early intervention.

First social and communication warning signs can be easily missed by parents and doctors, often because of a lack of awareness about early autism symptoms.

First Six Months
Sign 1: No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions
Did you ever smile at a baby and he gives you a great big toothless grin back? By a certain age, most babies respond to a facial expression or a smile, especially from a parent. Typically, babies start to laugh and squeal by around six months of age. But it is also important to understand, some babies are all smiles while others are a little more subdued. Variations in how much a baby smiles are also normal. In addition, babies start showing joyful expression at different ages. But if your baby is not smiling by about six months of age or laughing in response to your playfulness by a year, it can be an early sign of autism.

Infants typically smile when smiled at, but babies with developmental delays often don’t respond to smiles from caregivers. Diagnosing autism early helps children get the services they need to help them achieve their highest level of functioning.

Other signs to watch for during this period:
• He or She doesn’t respond to loud noises.
• He or She doesn’t follow moving objects with her eyes.
• He or She doesn’t grasp and hold objects.

By Nine Months
Sign 2: No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions
father, son, dad, kid, boy, parent Infant does not try to imitate sounds and movements others make, such as smiling and laughing, during simple social exchanges.

Early signs of autism in babies and toddlers often involve the absence of normal development, not the presence of abnormal behavior. For example, if your baby does not make eye contact when you are doing things, such as feeding or playing with her, it could be a sign of a problem. In general, babies are interested in faces and will meet a parent or caregiver’s eyes at least some of the time. If your baby or toddler resists eye contact on a regular basis, it could be an early warning sign of autism.

Infant does not try to imitate sounds and movements others make, such as smiling and laughing during simple social exchanges.

Other signs to watch for during this period:
• He or She doesn’t smile at people.
• He or She doesn’t babble.
• He or She doesn’t pay attention to new faces.
• He or She doesn’t turn her head to locate where sounds are coming from.
• He or She shows no affection for you.
• He or She doesn’t laugh or make squealing sounds.

By 12 months
Sign 3: Lack of response to name
An infant should generally respond to his or her name with increasing consistency from 6 to 12 months of age. Lack of responsiveness to one’s name is a sign of developmental delay.

Other signs to watch for during this period:
• He or She doesn’t reach for objects.
• He or She doesn’t smile on her own.
• He or She doesn’t try to attract attention through actions.
• He or She doesn’t have any interest in games such as peekaboo.
• He or She doesn’t crawl.

By 14 Months
Sign 4: No babbling or ‘baby talk’
Babbling refers to the sounds that babies make before they begin to talk, such as vowel and consonant combinations like “ba,” “da,” and “gee.” At 14 months, kids should should look at someone while they babble, and take turns babbling with caregivers (like a back-and-forth babbling “conversation”).

Speech delays are not always due to autism. There are several conditions that can lead to delayed language development. But in many instances, toddlers will compensate for language delays by finding ways to communicate other than using words. For example, babies and toddlers who do not use any words will make gestures and point to objects. Babies will often lift their arms up to let you know they want to be picked up. This type of nonverbal communication is also part of language development, which children with autism may not display.

Other signs to watch for during this period:
• He or She doesn’t use gestures such as waving or shaking her head.
• He or She doesn’t point to objects or pictures.
• He or She can’t stand when supported.

By 16 Months
Sign 5: No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving.
This includes things like pointing to ask for things (pointing to the cookie bag up on the shelf) or pointing to get someone’s attention (pointing to an airplane flying by). Children at this age should also be reaching to be picked up, waving, and shaking their head (for “no”). This period is pretty similar to the 14 Month Period. Speech delays are not always due to autism.

Other signs to watch for during this period:
• He or She doesn’t use gestures such as waving or shaking her head.
• He or She doesn’t point to objects or pictures.
• He or She can’t stand when supported.

By 18 Months
Sign 6: No spoken words.
Paradoxically, many researchers now argue that in order to better understand and treat this subgroup of nonverbal people with autism, the field needs to move beyond focusing on speech production. Emerging research suggests that seemingly unrelated issues, such as motor skills and joint attention, may instead be key.

Some children with autism may be under sensitive to sound or touch. They may not seem to feel pain. For instance, a child with autism may not cry when they fall and obviously cut themselves. The opposite can also be true. Some children are overly sensitive to touch. For example, they may not like the feel of fabric against their skin or certain textures of food.

Other signs to watch for during this period:
• He or She can’t walk.
• He or She doesn’t speak more than 15 words.
• He or She doesn’t use two-word sentences.
• He or She doesn’t seem to know the function of common household objects,
such as a telephone, fork, and spoon.

By 24 Months
Sign 7: No meaningful two-word phrases that don’t involve imitating or repeating.
Not looking at caregivers when communicating or playing with them, not imitating actions like clapping hands, banging on a drum, or people’s speech sounds.  Not looking in the direction of a caregiver’s finger when he or she points to something. For example, a typical 12- month old will look when their mother points to a toy on the shelf.

Babies thrive on affection. In fact, research shows babies who do not get cuddled or shown physical affection can have development delays. Although babies and young children do vary on how much snuggling and affection they enjoy, most babies and toddlers do enjoy hugs and affection from their parents. Babies who do not want to be touched may resist cuddles or squirm to get away from a hug. You may also notice your baby is excessively fussy with no known cause and is hard to comfort. This resistance to affection may be due to sensory disorders issues that can accompany autism. Additionally, some children with autism have a difficult time showing expressions of affection and bonding.

Other signs to watch for during this period:
• He or She doesn’t imitate your actions or words.
• He or She can’t push a wheeled toy.
• He or She doesn’t follow simple instructions.

By Any Age
Sign 8: Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills.
This type of regression doesn’t happen with all children with autism. But approximately 20 to 50 percent of parents of children with autism report that their child lost some of his or her skills during the second year, usually around 18 to 24 months of age.

Babies and young children are quickly learning all types of things from language skills to walking. In fact, it may seem your toddler learns several new words every day. But if your child seems to be regressing and losing skills, words or social connections, it could be a red flag.

It’s important to understand if your child displays some of the symptoms above it does not necessarily mean he has autism. There are normal variations in development. Parents should understand children reach developmental milestones at different ages. Comparing every milestone stone with a friend’s baby may cause unnecessary stress.

Other signs to watch for during this period:
• He or She doesn’t follow simple instructions.
• He or She doesn’t smile on her own.
• He or She pays more attention to objects than people.

What to do if you’re concerned
If your child has any of the early warning signs of autism, seek help right away so that s/he can receive the intervention s/he needs as early as possible. Despite the fact that we know more about the early signs of autism, the reality is that many children are still not diagnosed until around age four. Trust your instincts if you are concerned. The earlier a child receives the intervention he needs, the better his outcome will be. If you are concerned about your child’s communication development:

• Talk to your child’s doctor – the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors screen children for autism at the 18- and 24-month check-ups. However, if you feel that your child has some of the early signs of autism, speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

• See a speech language pathologist – speech-language pathologists are trained to assess communication skills in very young children, including “social communication skills.” These are the types of communication skills affected in autism.

• Do not “wait and see” – if you suspect your child is slow in his or her social and communication development, seek help as early as possible.

Please visit www.PepTalkBox.com for more information.

 

 

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