Signs of Autism in Toddlers
I believe that each child deserves the chance to be the best he or she can be. Some children, such as those diagnosed with autism, may need some additional care in order to achieve their absolute best. Early intervention can be a miracle worker, thus the sooner it is started the better.
The average age that autism is diagnosed is currently around three years old. Even though there are some indicators of the presence of autism before this age, this is the time in the child’s life in which autism can be reliably detected. Just like every child on this planet is unique, there are no two cases of autism that are identical.
Now, this list is not all-inclusive by any stretch of the imagination, but here are a few signs of autism in toddlers that have consistently been present in those diagnosed with autism:
Doesn’t follow directions. I am not talking about the occasional tantrum in which a child refuses to do what it is asked to do. This is more along the lines of “Jimmy, please throw your paper towel in the trash; take your plate and silverware to the sink; lastly, wash and dry your hands.” If your child repeatedly has trouble following directions, it could be a symptom of autism.
Doesn’t make eye contact. When your child looks at you or others, can you tell there is recognition in their eyes? Or do they appear to look right “through” you?
Loses motor control when excited. When you child is excited, do they flap their arms wildly, or shake violently?
Will only eat a select few foods. Some kids are just naturally picky eaters. However, do your child only eat 4-5 different foods and refuses to try anything new?
Does not smile when smile at. Even when it is just mimicking behavior, most children will smile back when smiled at.
Stays in imaginary play. Imagination is encouraged with all children. Those with autism tend to play in “their own little world.” Often, even when others are playing around them a child with autism will not notice for hours at a time.
Change in routine/plan causes panic. Does you bundle of joy get anxious or upset if things do not progress normally? If you say you are going home from the grocery store, but stop at the post office first will it cause problems? Could suggesting a change in routine, such as combing hair before brushing teeth, cause a melt-down?
Regression in any area of development. Could your child talk in complete sentences, yet now only uses one word at a time or babbles? Where they able to hop on one foot, but can no longer? Any backtracking among the developmental standards can be a sign of autism in toddlers.
These are just a few of the red flags that you as a parent or caregiver can look for. Keep in mind, no one knows your little one as well as you-if you suspect even for a second that your child may have autism, please have them screened by a professional ASAP. As stated previously, I believe that early intervention can make all the difference in the world.