Autism’s Five Main Signs
Autism, as we understand it today, is a far broader spectrum than doctors initially thought when it was first categorized.
Autism can affect adults or children; signs usually show up when children are 18 months to two years of age, but the condition can go undetected until later in life. The broad spectrum of Autism ranges from severe to very mild variants, which means that each case can be unique and a one-size-fits-all approach is not one that’s going to work. Individuals with Autism develop in a far different manner from their unaffected peers and while Autism is a lifelong condition, there are many ways to handle your own condition or that of a loved one. Autism is manageable if you have the right information and mindset at your command! Autistic individuals can and do live full and exciting lives while living with their conditions.
To find information on all of the signs of Autism, you can Google: “find an autism center near me,” or you can read on for the five main signs of Autism as we’ve laid them out. Remember that this spectrum is vast, so you need to be aware of the range of possibilities that might exist.
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Developmental and Learning Issues
One of the signs that is easiest to spot and shows up early in a child’s developmental phase is a learning or developmental delay or complication. A child with Autism may not develop at the same rate mentally as their peers, or be able to “keep up” with most children their own age when developing new skills. Catching onto basic language skills is one clear example; not understanding the idea of basic personal hygiene or being unable to follow simple instructions are others. Parents, doctors, or teachers should be aware of and look out for these potential developmental red flags in children around them as they can be slow to reveal themselves at times. Here are more examples of what to look out for:
- Unable to work out the functions of simple toys.
- Cannot speak in sentences.
- Does not grasp simple instructions.
- Does not show much imagination in play.
- Uninterested in other children.
- Unwilling to make eye contact.
Extreme Sensitivity to Touch, Taste, Light, or Sound.
Another warning sign that Autism may be present is extreme sensitivity to touch, taste, light, or sound stimuli. Autistic brains process these stimuli in a far different way than unaffected brains. If a person has Autism, these stimuli may easily and quickly overwhelm them and cause extreme discomfort. The information overload from these stimuli is simply too much for the person’s senses to handle, and it can be extremely frustrating and challenging for them to communicate this clearly at times. If a person develops an apparent distaste for extremely tart, rich, or sweet food, this may signify Autism. If a person overreacts to a soft touch or can’t handle bright light or a seemingly innocuous sound, these may also be signs. The other end of the spectrum shows us cases where people are under-sensitive to these stimuli. Signs of this might be banging their head against a wall or wishing for more weight on their person.
Between one year and fifteen months old, children should be responding to specific commands or questions with a yes or no nod or shake of the head. There should be some basic words like “mama” or “dada” beginning to form, and they might be starting to parrot sounds that they frequently hear, such as “uh oh” or “yay.” If a child is not at this stage by fifteen months old, they may be Autistic. Of course, there are cases where children are simply slow starters, but it is something worth questioning. If children do not speak at all or sit in silence for extended periods of time, this could be a reason to visit a doctor to find out if they may be on the spectrum.
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Repetition of Certain Behaviors or Motions
If you observe a child repetitively shaking their head or a limb, making nonsensical or apparently unintentional facial expressions, or tugging at their hair, they may be on the Autism spectrum. Behaviors like this are divided into two groups: the first is called “lower-order” and is made up of behavior like body rocking, fidgeting, flapping hands, grunting, or phrase repetition. In the second “higher-order” group, you will find behaviors like rituals or routines that cannot be avoided or left out and insistence on events going the same way at all times.
Discomfort or Difficulty in Social Situations
One of the most apparent signs of Autism is the affected person having extreme difficulty in socializing with their peers. Both children and adults on the spectrum tend to shut down in social situations that they find over-stimulating. This is sometimes diagnosed as social anxiety in adults or simply as being a loner. There are some telltale signs to look for in social interactions:
- Difficulty initiating or responding in social situations.
- Difficulty interpreting non-verbal contact
- Lack of social awareness and a general understanding of social relationships
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If you are aware of these signs, you’ll be able to keep an eye out for them in your loved ones and respond in the right way when you notice them.