Signs of Autism in Young Children
Sometimes, you notice that your child may have strange and unusual behaviors as compared to that of other children. He or she may have difficulties interacting and communicating with his or her environment, with you and with his or her playmates. Do you also suspect that these strange and unusual behaviors may be early and developing signs of autism in young children?
This article will help explain the signs of autism in young children, how you could detect them and how they are screened and diagnosed by medical professionals.
Signs of Autism in Young Children: How Can I Notice Them?
In general, parents could detect the easiest and early signs of autism in young children at 18 months of age. These signs have something to do with getting and maintaining attention, interest in certain objects and pretend play. To spot these signs, ask yourself the following questions: At 18 months of age, does my child…
- Look at you and point when he or she wants to show you something?
- Look when you point to something?
- Use imagination in pretend play?
If the answer is NO, your child may be at risk for autism. Now that you have detected some of the early signs of autism in young children, you may then refer your child to a pediatrician or a primary care doctor.
Signs of Autism in Young Children Detected by Pediatricians or Primary Care Doctors
The role of pediatricians or primary care doctors is to screen your child for high risk, medium risk and low risk signs of autism in young children according to special testing and diagnostic tools. They generally build on your premise or your suspicion of the existing signs of your child by asking additional questions that would further their diagnosis of autism. These questions are also related to attention, interest and pretend play.
Your pediatrician or primary care physician may:
- Try to establish eye contact with your child.
- Get the child’s attention to a toy or specific object and encourage interaction with that object through pretend play.
- Ask the child to show or point to a specific object.
- Ask your child to build a tower of bricks.
If the child FAILED in any of these tasks, he or she may be of high risk, medium risk or low risk for signs of autism in young children. If so, the diagnosis may be finalized by a Developmental Physician, Clinical Child Psychologist, and/or a Neurologist.
How Developmental Specialists and Clinics Check for Signs of Autism in Young Children
Once a generalist physician or primary health care provider has screened for the early signs of autism in young children, they may then refer them to a Developmental Physician, Clinical Child Psychologist, and/or a Neurologist.
Developmental Physicians and Clinical Child Psychologists specialize with Pervasive Developmental Disorders or Autistic Disorders. These professionals have the skills and experience to finally diagnose mild, moderate and severe forms of autism in children seen in the common signs of autism in young children. Neurologists, on the other hand, regard autism as a physiological or neurological dysfunction or disorder which can be seen through special scans and imaging techniques.
Specifically, these skilled and experienced professionals use the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, Text Revision): Criteria for Autism to detect Autistic Behaviors to check for signs of autism in young children.
As a rule of thumb to parents everywhere who think that their children may have early signs of autism in young children or a developmental disorder: Once you have detected the early signs of autism, immediately consult a generalist physician or a developmental specialist. Remember that you have the innate sense or ability as a parent to detect if there is something really wrong with your child and that it is harmless to finally check it out and follow it up.