Parents have become more and more wary and watchful of their children’s development with the apparent increase in autism cases. Many of them become nervous and afraid when their children fail to speak at the age of two. Children have different abilities in learning verbal language, so some would learn to speak much later than others. There are also other causes of late development of speech, like hearing problems.
It is still best to visit the doctor if parents notice some delays in the progress of their children’s communication skills. Autism should be detected early so that intervention can be done. Here’s a checklist of the most common symptoms of autism that parents should watch out for.
- The child has difficulty developing nonverbal communication skills like facial expressions, eye contact and appropriate body posture.
- The child cannot play pretend games, like feeding a doll.
- The child has problems with playing with other children. He/she prefers to be alone most of the time.
- He/she doesn’t have any friends.
- He/she doesn’t seem to be interested in anything. For example, when an airplane flies overhead, he/she doesn’t point at it or doesn’t seem to notice it.
- When the child wants something, he/she cannot say it through words, but instead shows it through other gestures, like pointing.
- The child doesn’t seem to have any interest in sharing his/her enjoyment with other people.
- When a person points to an object, he/she doesn’t look at it.
- He/she has difficulty understanding other people’s feelings, like sadness or pain.
- The child has troubles showing his/her feelings or talking about them.
- The child exhibits abnormal reactions to senses of sight, smell, touch, hearing and balance. He/she may also have strange reactions to loud noises.
- He/she cannot speak or learns language abnormally and very slowly.
- The child doesn’t want to be cuddled.
- He/she doesn’t seem to recognize imminent danger or pain.
- The child has difficulty starting a conversation or continuing a conversation.
- The child doesn’t seem to be aware when others are talking to him/her, but responds to other background sounds.
- He/she plays oddly.
- The child repeats over and over again what someone has said to him/her.
- He/she may appear to be interested in people but cannot talk to them or play with them.
- The child cannot understand the implied meaning of what someone has said to him/her. For example, someone tells a joke and he/she doesn’t understand it or takes the words only in their literal meaning.
- The child exhibits ritualistic behavior. He/she does the same things over and over again.
- He/she is unusually interested in certain parts of an object rather than the whole thing. For example, he/she focuses only on the wheels of a toy car rather than playing with the entire thing.
- The child has difficulty adapting to change. For instance, he/she may become distressed when someone moves the furniture around.
- When he/she becomes older, he/she develops a preoccupation with unusual things like weather patterns or license plates.
- The child may lose skills he/she once had. For instance, he/she stops saying words he/she was once using.
- The child may be extremely physically overactive or extremely underactive.
- The child has strange behaviors like body-rocking, hand-flapping or clapping and head-rolling.
- He/she stacks or lines up objects, like toys.
- He/she displays tantrums for no apparent reason.
- He/she laughs or giggles inappropriately.
- The child likes to spin objects.
If parents notice some of these symptoms in their children less than three years of age, they should go to the doctor and have them checked. It is their responsibility to be very observant of their child’s development.
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