How to spot the signs of autism in a 3 year old

November 12, 2012

How to spot the signs of autism in a 3 year old

Trying to identify the signs of autism in a young child is fraught with difficulties. The first thing to note is that autism is not an illness or disorder. It is a range of disorders, hence the use of the word, ‘spectrum’. Every individual with autism can have a varied form or severity level and hence show different signs of autism. Some people have a very mild form of the condition and remain ‘mainstream’ with very few indications. Others are severe and require a lot more help. Autism affects one child in every 150 annually, if the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is to be believed. However their report highlights that normally the diagnosis does not come until the child is three years old. Research has shown that children respond better when the treatment begins at an earlier age, so early diagnosis is important to gain the most benefit. Noting differences in social skills can be one of the signs of autism which is seen first. If your child does not play with other children and does not engage in communication then perhaps a visit to a child psychologist should be considered. Children this age want friends but if a child has autism then they do not know how to express themselves and understand emotional connections between peers or siblings. Another one of the early signs of autism is when a youngster pulls away from being cuddled or shown affection. Again it does not mean that child does not want affection, it means that they do not know how to respond to others. Other children are the opposite, hence the difficulties in diagnosing a child with autism. With verbal skills, again the early signs of autism can be conflicting. If the three year old has what is known as high functioning autism he or she may appear far too bright for their peers. Their vocabulary will match children far older and younger children may bore them. However if the child is lower functioning then they may not talk at all, or just mumble or babble. These youngsters may have problems expressing themselves leading to anger and frustration. Non verbal skills also present challenges, however if a child continually ignores others when they call their name then there may be cause for concern. If the child does not understand the need for eye contact and never makes eye contact then this is another warning, as is a face that does not respond to environmental signals. Does the child smile or laugh or cry with the correct stimulus? To the general public perhaps one of the most prominent signs of autism is the continual rocking motion. If this is seen often then a visit to the doctor is highly recommended. Although children all have a favourite toy if your child takes that favouritism to the point of obsession then that to can indicate autism too. And if the youngster finds any break to their routine a devastating experience then that too can indicate autism.


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