Detecting autism in young children
It’s a disorder that is as difficult to diagnose as it is important to diagnose. But if you’re the parent of a young child, learning the early warning signs of autism can make all the difference in knowing when to seek help.
“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties and restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behaviour,” said Dr. Joe Jagdeo, a Paediatrician at The Scarborough Hospital.
“The challenge with ASD is that the severity and symptoms can vary widely and may go unrecognized, especially in mildly affected children or when it’s masked by more debilitating handicaps.”
Nevertheless, Dr. Jagdeo says that parents should be on the lookout for some or all of the following symptoms that may present in children as young as 12 months:
- Does not babble, point or make meaningful gestures by one year of age.
- Does not speak one word by 16 months of age.
- Does not combine two words by two years of age.
- Does not respond to his or her name.
- Loses language or social skills that were developed.
- Has poor eye contact.
- Doesn’t seem to know how to play with toys or excessively lines up toys or other objects.
- Has an attachment to one particular toy or object.
- Doesn’t smile or interact joyfully with others.
- Appears deaf, responds unevenly or not at all to sounds.
“It’s important to remember that there may be other possible explanations for these symptoms,” stresses Dr. Jagdeo. “If you’re concerned about some of the behaviours you see in your child, it’s best to start with a visit to your paediatrician, who can help figure out if a more comprehensive evaluation is warranted.”