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Signs and Symptoms of Autism

Signs and Symptoms of Autism

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave. Signs of ASD can appear in very young children, with most families typically expressing concern by the time their child is 18 months old.

For a long time, an autism diagnosis painted a bleak future. People assumed all autism looked the same, but as the name implies, it is a spectrum, with a range of abilities and challenges depending on the child. Diagnosis doesn’t change who a child is, but what it does do is allow the right care teams to understand the child better and help him or her experience life in a way that they understand.

The range and severity of symptoms can vary widely. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of ASD are:

  • Developmental learning delays
  • Difficulty communicating or speech delays – for example, speech regression (starting to say words then stopping) or not responding to their name
  • Difficulty in social situations or preferring to play alone
  • Attachment to unusual interests
  • Difficulty understanding emotions
  • Over or under sensitivity to light, sound, touch or taste (possibly feeding challenges)
  • Repetitive movements and behaviors, for example
  • Trouble with transitions or changes in routine
  • Recurring sleep problems
  • Insufficient impulse control

Sometimes these tendencies may be more subtle. For example, if a child only spins the wheels of a car, but doesn’t roll it on the ground. Or, if presented with a cookie jar full of shape sorters, a child may only want to spin the top and not place shapes in the correct spot. Though these may seem like small things, there are big processes at work to make them happen.

While parents undoubtedly want the best for their children, they don’t always have all the answers. That’s why it’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your child’s pediatrician. Don’t buy into the myth that it’s “just something he’ll grow out of” when there are so many resources out there to assess, diagnose, and treat if needed. The sooner intervention starts, the better!

Baton Rouge General’s Pediatric Rehabilitation Department has physical, occupational and speech therapists with advanced certifications and years of experience who work with children of all ages and abilities. If you are looking for resources to help your child, call (225) 381-6527.