Autism is a neurological and developmental disorder that usually begins during the first three years of life. Autism is still not fully understood. While many theories exist on what leads to autism, an exact cause has not been determined.  The signs and severity of autism can vary greatly. According to the Mayo Clinic, children with autism may have problems with social skills, behavior and language development.  The autistic child is more in his own world and less connected with other people. The autistic child often avoids eye contact, has communication problems and unusual fascination with certain objects. Autism is about four times more common among boys than girls. 

Some autistic children have special talents, for example, extremely good memory, music or math skills. 

What causes it? 

The cause is unknown. Some research suggests that it is a genetic disorder. 

Signs 

Language development may be delayed in some children with autism.  For example, children may be behind in starting to speak, regress and lose language skills or not speak at all. If your child has not started babbling or responding to their name by about 12 months, it may be a red flag something is wrong.  

Behavior issues may also arise in children with autism including performing repetitive motions, such as hand movements or rocking.  Most children like to get hugs from their parents, but some children with autism shy away from physical contact. If your child is sensitive to touch, even if he is not in any pain, that may be a sign of autism.  

In addition to behavior issues and language development, problems with social interactions are often present.  Common signs of autism in children include poor eye contact; invading personal space and not participating in make believe play.  

Although some signs of autism would be spotted early in childhood, there are other signs that may not be identified until the child is a little older.  For instance, in school age children, signs of autism may include some of the following:  

  •  Unable to follow simple directions at school
  •  Prefers to play alone and avoids peers
  •  Does not like to be comforted in times of distress
  •  No facial expressions 
  •  Small changes in routine cause upset and tantrums
  •  May have impulsive behavior 
  •  Short attention span 

It is essential for parents to understand not all children who have the signs listed above will be diagnosed with autism; however recognizing autism signs early is important.  Early intervention and education programs can improve how well your child develops.  

How to diagnose 

For early detection, there is a two level guide that we use to diagnose Autism. If you see abnormal behavior on the first level, the child will need more testing. The first level: 

•         Under 12 months won’t make “talking” sounds, won’t point or make gestures

•         18 months won’t say full words

•         24 months old won’t express his/her own thoughts in at least two words 

If your child won’t meet the above criteria, should be further investigated. The second level is more complicated, and requires a skilled specialist. 

Treatment 

The treatment is an essential element of a complex behavioral therapy, which is focused on developing the child’s social skills. The best results are given in training programs with parents’ involvement. There is currently no medication to prevent or cure autism. 

Our guest author is Rebecca who is a regular contributor on blogguests.com. She is a stay at home mom and loves to write about family and children.

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