Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is developmental disorder that includes a range of behaviors and symptoms. These behaviors and symptoms can be mild, moderate or severe. Each case of ASD is unique and no two children with ASD will act the same way or experience the same symptoms.
There is no cure for ASD, but there are treatments and therapies that can help. These treatments can be very effective if a child is diagnosed soon after the first signs of autism have been noticed and if the treatment is started soon after that. Early diagnosis and treatment / therapy is called early intervention. A child can be diagnosed with ASD as early as 18 months.
Because autism spectrum disorder includes a range of behaviors, it helps to understand some of the behaviors that parents should watch for and report to a doctor.
What are some of the signs of ASD in a child?
- May have a hard time communicating with others.
- May not be able to establish eye contact with others or respond when his / her name is called.
- Might respond in an unusual or inappropriate way to others’ comments or feelings.
- May not smile in a social setting.
- May show interests that are limited to just a few subjects.
- May learn a lot about a particular interest and want to talk about only that topic, even if others don’t show an interest in it.
- May not take an interest when toys are shown to him / her.
- May prefer to play alone, rather than with other children.
- Might have behaviors that he or she does repeatedly – like rocking back and forth or flapping his or her hands.
- Might experience stress when a routine or environment changes.
- Might experience sensitivity to light, temperature, the texture of clothes, or noise.
- Might experience problems with fine or gross motor coordination. (Fine motor skills are used for things like brushing teeth or writing; gross motor skills are used for activities like jumping and climbing.)
- May experience attention problems or problems with digestion or sleep.
These are just some of the behaviors that are linked to autism spectrum disorder. If you see any of these behaviors in your child, report them to a doctor. And remember that acting as soon as you notice something unusual in your child’s behavior is the best possible thing you can do for your child.