Autism – the signs and symptoms

Autism – the signs and symptoms

What autism is and what a parent will notice 1st are not quite the same thing.  Well, they are but they are not.

What I have found in very young children (12 -18 months) with autism is that often they have behaviors or challenges that can include things like:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Lining up of toys
  • Not responding to name being called
  • Playing with only a few very select toys
  • Preferring their own company over the company of other
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Feeding challenges
  • Terrible tears and tantrums
  • Unexpected reactions to sounds
  • Gagging when new textures are introduces
  • Showing unusual interests in certain items and very little to no interest in other items
  • Not enjoying being out and about or in shopping centers or malls
  • Resistant to hugs and cuddles
  • Unusual love for water and playing in water
  • Tummy problems

Some of these behaviors will be visible from age 10 to 12 months – even earlier.  This same child will however also grow normally, they will get their first tooth, suck their thumbs, they will sit, walk, eat, and develop normally!  They will grow stronger, grow out of clothes and into new sizes and their hair will change.

Society is focused on the “big development milestone”.  The ones that are truly spoken about are sitting, standing, walking, talking, eating solids etc.  So when a parent is faced with questions relating to development, they will not know that the behaviors they are seeing could in-fact indicate an autism spectrum disorder.

At age 3 year – 4.5 years when most children are diagnosed the signs or symptoms of autism are often picked up by pre-schools or the kindergarten that the child attends.   The schools will in many instances be the first to comment on a communication delay or speech difficulties, social delays, repetitive or restrictive behaviors in class and they will then report these concerns to the parent.  Many of the “tell-tale” signs that were seen by mom and dad when the child was younger will also still be visible, but some would have changed.  Some may in-fact have totally disappeared.

In the DSM-5 symptoms of Autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are listed in two categories:

  1. Problems with communication and social interaction
  2. Problems with restricted or repetitive patterns or behavior

To receive a clinical diagnosis of autism the child or person would need to experience symptoms in both these categories.  Please read article on “what is autism” for more information on what the actual signs and symptoms of autism are (in this article I talk more about point 1 and 2 above).

When you read the article “what is autism” you will understand why I say, ‘What autism is and what a parent will notice 1st are not quite the same thing”. BUT they are all related!  Some signs are just visible at a much younger age.  Not all the early signs are not listed as part of the diagnosis criteria for autism.’

Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.