While developmental guidelines can be helpful for parents, they are just that — guidelines. They provide a general framework for milestones and benchmarks, but each child will ultimately develop at their own pace, be it socially, intellectually, emotionally, or physically, and a certain amount of deviation from the “standard” guidelines is perfectly normal. However, if a child seems to be developing well outside the guidelines, autism can be a very real possibility. Here are just a few characteristics of children with autism.
The differences in infant development are subtle. An autistic infant may not look at others as frequently, and pay less attention to regular social stimuli (or overreact to surprising stimuli). They may also smile less often, and not respond as often to their own name. However, a true diagnosis of any autism spectrum disorder can only be made by three years of age.
Once a child reaches their toddler years, the deviations in social development become more pronounced. Eye contact is still minimal, and the child will be less likely to take turns with other children or participate in turn-taking activities. They also have difficulty expressing themselves with simple movements, such as pointing at something to indicate it.
By the time an autistic child is three-to-five years old, a official diagnosis can be made. These children are far less likely to exhibit or understand social cues, such as imitating or responding to emotions. They are unlikely to spontaneously approach others. And the lack of nonverbal communication and turn-taking is firmly rooted by this stage.
As with any learning disability (and indeed with many physical ailments), autism exists on a spectrum of severity. Many cases of Asperger’s Syndrome, for example, are considered “high-functioning” autism, meaning that the patient can function well in society with minimal adjustment and management. More severe cases may require special needs schools for children with autism, staffed by teachers and administrators accustomed to working with learning disabilities.
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control estimates that one in every 50 school-age children in the United States falls somewhere on the autism spectrum. If you feel your child exhibits some of the characteristics of children with autism, ask your pediatrician to investigate further. Knowing is the first step to treating, and proper treatment and diagnosis can make all the difference. Visit here for more: deronschool.org