Incidents of children being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder are on the rise. Statistics indicate that about 1 in every 88 children is diagnosed as falling somewhere in the spectrum. We still don’t fully understand what causes autism, and having your child diagnosed can be scary and confusing. However, understanding of the spectrum itself has improved greatly and there are early warning signs that can help you get your child into treatment. The earlier the treatment begins, the better off your child will be when the time comes to cope with these challenges.
Smiling—or Lack Thereof
Babies generally smile back when someone smiles at them. If your infant has a developmental delay such as ASD, they may not respond with smiles. This is not a definite indicator of a developmental issue; your baby may just be having a bad day. It can, however, be a warning sign of a problem and is something to keep an eye on.
Failure to Imitate
In addition to returning smiles, infants on a regular development track will imitate expressions, movements and sounds that others make. They will attempt to laugh, mimic hand motions, copy facial expressions, and make sounds much like those others make. Failure to engage in mimicry can be a sign of ASD.
Lack of Vocalizations
Most babies engage in “babbling,” “baby talk,” or repetition of syllables. A general lack of vocalization by around six months of age can also be an indicator of developmental delay.
Lack of Gestures
Likewise, children use gestures to communicate by 10 months of age. They will point, beckon or otherwise indicate their needs and desires through body language. If they do not make such gestures, it can be an indicator of problems.
Failure to Respond
By six to twelve months of age, most children know and are able to recognize their name. They respond when addressed, be it by answering a call, looking in your direction or otherwise indicating that they are aware they are being spoken to. Failure to respond to their name can be a sign of a developmental delay such as autism.
If your child is withdrawn, does not seek attention or seems uncomfortable with attention, they may have a developmental delay. Likewise, failure to make eye contact can be an indicator of a desire to be solitary or withdrawn. In the infant and toddler stage, failure to reach for parents when parents pick up the child is another related possible sign.
Motor Development Issues
If your child is not trying to roll over, push themselves up, crawl or walk on schedule, he or she may suffer from developmental delays such as ASD. Motor development usually begins at a few months of age, and if you do not see regular development through their first year, it may be time to seek help.
Most of these signs, taken alone, may not indicate a problem. If you see multiple delays or unusual developments, however, you should seek the aid of a qualified child psychologist. For those in the Edmonton area, help is available through our services. Take a look at our Autism and ADHD services and give us a call for a consult today!