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Signs Of Autism In Toddlers
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Most signs of Autism in toddlers are noticed around 1 to 4 years of age when a child is not seen to be hitting verbal and social developmental markers. A few others do not develop diagnosable Autism until the beginning of adolescence, but since there is normally so much development going on during the younger years, it is often easier to spot signs of Autism in toddlers rather than older children who have not had previous manifestations. This is because it is more noticeable when a toddler does not reach an expected developmental milestone.

Parents are often the first people to notice signs of Autism in toddlers, or maybe that there is just something different about them. Below are some common symptoms of Autism that parents should be made aware of to ensure early treatment:

  • Lack of eye contact in very young children. (Most children will look you right in the eye, and in fact, tend to stare unabashedly.)
  • Loss of speech/words or very delayed speech development.
  • Seeming insensitivity (or alternately, extreme sensitivity) to pain or other stimuli.
  • Lack of interest in other children, people, or toys.
  • Improper use of toys or objects (like spinning the wheels of a toy car rather than driving it or lining up toys with obsessive neatness, opening and closing doors or drawers, flipping light switches on and off repeatedly and without ceasing).
  • Extreme obsession and an inability to adapt.
  • Stims (physical quirks that they don’t outgrow like hand flapping, toe walking, banging their head against the wall and spinning)

Any of these behaviors are normal in childhood at different times, but when more than one is experienced, or in conjunction with other, more subtle behaviors for a substantial period of time, a diagnosis of Autism is usually given. However, since there are as many different manifestations of Autism as there are people, and the spectrum is ridiculously wide, there are many other more subtle signs of Autism in toddlers that parents may notice. These can range from hyper-activity to an unnatural focus on seemingly mundane objects.

For example, if you have a child who is perfectly happy to play with a straw for the entire length of a meal at a restaurant while all other 2 year olds are flinging food and throwing tantrums, it could be a symptom of Autism. Or, if your child insists on riding escalators wherever there is one to be found. Many children love escalators and elevators, but if your child seems resistant to any other activity when there is an escalator in sight, or will ride the escalator for hours to the exclusion of all other activities, it could also be a symptom of Autism.

It is difficult to determine exactly what is, and what isn’t an Autism symptom, because young children usually go through several odd phases when they do things that resemble Autistic behavior. It is when the child is adamant about a certain behavior, or when it persists long past the usual “phase” time, which is usually about six months, that parents may begin to suspect that something is wrong. Parents should be aware of these signs of Autism in toddlers and, if they observe these signs, the child should be seen by a medical professional.

To read more about understanding and relating to children with Autism, and about being the parent of a special needs child, please visit my blog. I write about my experiences as a mother of a young Autistic child, and what it takes to raise him the best way possible.


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