Signs Your Child is on the Autism Spectrum
We personally understand how challenging it is to raise a child with autism. But even before a parent can search for the resources and develop the skills required to raise a child on the spectrum – how do you know the signs your child is on the autism spectrum in the first place? It can be a confusing question – this is why we want to help. In this blog post, we will learn the early signs of ASD in young children, online screening tests you can take, and where you can find assessment tests around you.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects the way a person relates to people and the world around them. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that differentiates them apart from other people, but they may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways different from other people.
It is clinically defined as a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder with impairments in social communication, including language, and a pattern of repetitive stereotyped behaviours. In addition to these core symptoms, ASD carries many associated neurological issues that can cause hyperactivity, anxiety, seizures and sleep deficits, among other challenges, and is often accompanied by other medical conditions. The presence and severity of these symptoms range greatly for individuals across the spectrum.
Signs of Autism
Every person with ASD is unique, so the early signs and symptoms can vary. Within the first few months of life, only some children with ASD may show signs. Others may show around 24 months.
Up to 12 months a child with ASD may show:
- Limited or no eye contact
- No babbling
- Appearing not to hear (no response to name when called)
- Playing with toys in an unusual or limited manner
- Showing more interest in objects instead of people
- Starting language skills but then stopping or losing those skills
- Showing repetitive movements with their fingers, hands, arms or head
Up to 2 years a child with ASD can continue to show symptoms from infancy and possibly:
- Focus only on certain interests
- Be unable to have reciprocal social interactions
- Move in unusual ways, such as tilting their head, flexing their fingers or hands, opening their mouth or sticking out their tongue
- Have no interest in playing with other children
- Repeat words or phrases without appearing to understand them
- Have behavioural issues, including self-injury
- Have trouble controlling their emotions (tantrums)
- Like to have things a certain way, such as always eating the same food
Possible signs of ASD at any age:
- Avoids eye contact and prefers to be alone
- Struggles with understanding other people’s feelings
- Remains nonverbal or has delayed language development
- Repeats words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
- Gets upset by minor changes in routine or surroundings
- Has highly restricted interests
- Performs repetitive behaviours such as flapping, rocking or spinning
- Has unusual and often intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colours.
Screening tools are designed to help identify children who might have developmental delays. However, they don’t provide conclusive evidence of developmental delays and do not result in diagnoses. If your screening produces signs your child is on the autism spectrum, it should be followed up by your child’s health care provider.
Below are some online screening tools provided by Autism Canada, for each age group; toddler, child, teen, and adult.
If you believe that your child is exhibiting signs of being on the autism spectrum and would like an assessment, please contact the diagnostic hub in your area or your local Ministry of Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services Regional Office, or Autism Junction.