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Recognizing the Warning Signs of Autism

How can you tell if your child has autism?

This is a question that has perhaps puzzled many parents, especially those with children showing unusual red flags pointing to autism. However, knowing whether one has autism or not can be a very difficult, strenuous, and often emotional task. The person involved, after all, can be loved one, a child, a relative—and, naturally, you wouldn’t want them to be afflicted by this horrible disorder. Still, the task must be done, no matter how difficult it is. Unfortunately, the signs are not as clear cut as they could be. For one, autism is not like a simple ailment like a fever where you can use a thermometer to measure whether one is inflicted by autism or not. Experts do tests do determine the presence of the ailment, of course, but how do you determine if you need to bring your child to the professionals for a more comprehensive analysis of the situation.

Many say that autism cannot fully be assessed until the child has reached the age of two. At this age, certain developmental signs can become more pronounced, hence making the assessment easier. But there are certain signs that can help you determine early on.

For instance, by the age of six months above, you can detect early signs of the disorder by checking the child’s social and oral skills. When the child does not coo or babble, does not make eye contact, or does not smile, your “red flags” should be raised, although might say you should wait for a few more months to check for other signs. Other “signs” at this point include: non participation or non response in any vocal activities and non response to any game or activity that require their reaction (a peek a boo game, for instance).

At the age of one, the child should show attempts to speak, point, wave, respond when being called by name, grasp—or, basically, just to simply react. One of the main and most assuring sign of autism is indifference, the lack of reaction to any activity, sound, or visual elements around him. An autistic child, in turn, may also be overly sensitive to certain smells, sounds, and/or textures. Furthermore, if the child is prone to making repetitive actions or motions, along with other signs, parents should bring their child to experts right away. Other red flags: resistance to chance and an unusual attachment to a particular object.

At age two, the signs should be more pronounced. Along with the cited warning signs, other autism red flags include lack of joyful expression, indifference to social activities, loss of speech (by the child’s 24th month, he should be able to at least say two word phrases that are meaningful or not simply imitated from someone else), among others.

Generally, the three main criteria of these sign are: impaired social interaction, restricted movement and interests, and impaired communication skills.

Obviously, as one could tell from these signs, it may be possible to tell if a child has autism at an early age, although it is not a possibility for most children. The signs that become apparent are not constant, and they are differently not standard to every child with the disorder. In any case, once these signs are detected, you should bring your child to medical experts who can treat the symptoms and help your child live a normal life.

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Mark Derosa Nutritionist

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