How to Tell if your Child has Autism( Look for the Common Signs )

How to tell if your child has autism

Parents are so excited of their kid’s milestones. Especially if he is the first child or the first ever grandchild.

The family would even  excitedly record the first steps, the first words and even the first time that he goes to school.

At certain times however, parents notice something different or something not going the way it should be or not coming if it’s expected.

At the back of your mind, you maybe asking this question, ” Is my child autistic? “

You as a parent, being with your kid most of the time, is the best person to notice the earliest warning signs of autism. You see your child on a daily basis and you know your child better than anyone else and observe behaviors and peculiarities that a Pediatrician, in a short visit, might not observe at all.

So, the question “how to tell if your child has autism, ” which maybe ringing in your ears on a daily basis needs to be answered fast!

What are the earliest signs of autism? 

What are the earliest signs of autism?
Parents usually notice early signs and should seek consultation right away.

 

As early as 6 to 12 months, studies demonstrate that behavioral signs are starting to be noticed for autistic kids.

 

If your baby doesn’t do these tasks, don’t hesitate to ask his Pediatrician if something is wrong or better still see a Developmental Pediatrician for evaluation.

  • Make eye contact or look at you when you carry him or smile back at you when you smile at him
  • Reacts to his name, or to the cooing of somebody familiar
  • Follow objects with his eyes or seem interested with things around him
  • Wave goodbye, or use other gestures to communicate.
  • Make noises to get your attention
  • Initiate or respond to cuddling or reach out to be picked up
  • Follow your gestures and facial expressions
  • Play with other people or show interest and enjoyment
  • Show concern if you hurt yourself or experience discomfort

When is the best time to see a doctor to confirm your doubts?

If you spot these developmental red flags in your baby, go see your child’s Pediatrician for evaluation as soon as possible.

At 6 months: No big smiles or expression of being happy

At 9 months: No imitating of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions

At 12 months: No response to name and no babbling or “baby talk”; no imitating of gestures, such as pointing or waving bye-bye

At 16 months: No spoken words

At  24 months: No meaningful two-word phrases that are spoken on his own

The importance of early intervention

Your baby may not be diagnosed that early but at least his doctor can follow up his progress on a regular basis.

Usually, a definitive diagnosis is made only sometime on the 18th to the 24th month. This is because some kids may catch up on the 24th month with their delays.

Also, a small number of children appear to develop normally in the first 12 months, and then start to show autism symptoms between 18 and 24 months of age by going through a period of regression.

They may have started to learn a few words then stop talking suddenly.

Some parents even blame the vaccines given to their kids.

Studies have shown that early intensive treatment started at 18 months, if they are diagnosed at that age, may help to rewire the brain and reverse the symptoms.

There are variations though, like high-functioning children with autism aren’t diagnosed until they start school and noted not to interact well with classmates and teachers, thus are struggling socially.

The Special Education ( SPED ) program as an early intervention

Let me share with you some kids who attended the Special education program at the Romblon East Central School where Pangga ta Ikaw is presently building a mini-therapy area.

The SPED as an early interventions for kids with autism.
Interventions such as zipping and unzipping are done to develop fine motor skills and to teach how to focus on tasks.

FM was enrolled at SPED when he was six, and initially had poor language skills with words that were hard to understand, was hyperactive, with very short attention span and no eye contact. Social skills were also very poor, he seemed to be afraid of other kids, did not want to mingle with them and would not enter the classroom unless the teacher was there.

Teacher Bing, his very dedicated mentor, started to develop his speech, so he gradually learned how to speak clearly. Behaviour modification was done as well so he slowly learned how to socialize with other kids.

At 8, FM is now mainstreamed in Kindergarten after 2 years in SPED and now able to read and add in the kinder level.

JR had meningitis when he was younger and then developed autism signs and intellectual disability. He was initially enrolled to Kindergarten for one year but eventually moved to SPED and stayed there for 3 years. Now at 10, he was finally mainstreamed to Kindergarten.

JV, now 7, was initially enrolled to regular Kindergarten for only 2 weeks but pulled out because he was non-verbal and they thought he was deaf. He was brought for assessment and was diagnosed with autism. After a year in SPED, he was mainstreamed to Kindergarten, and now able to read, write simple sentences and add in the Kinder level.  His social skills are now much improved, as well.

These 3 kids above are still monitored and taught by teacher Bing for an hour everyday after their regular Kindergarten class.

On the other hand, Heleina is a 15 year old girl with severe autism who has been in the SPED program for 6 years, so started only at 9 years old,  but could not be mainstreamed to regular school and at present just in the  grade one curriculum. She still has very poor social skills.

This only shows that  early intervention is really important  for our autistic kids to develop well.

As a parent with an autistic child, what can you do to help your special kid?

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Educate yourself

Parent's guide to high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder                

 

Click the images of the books to see the price.Nathan's autism spectrum superpowers

Read a lot  and learn about autism for you to make informed decisions with regards to treatment options for your child. Always ask questions and participate in all treatment decisions.

Know your child well.

Learn what triggers your kid’s challenging or disruptive behaviors and what makes him calm and settled. What makes him stressed out or frightened? If you discover what upsets your child, you’ll be good at solving conflicts , thus preventing struggles and difficulties for him.

Love your child unconditionally and accept him no matter what.

Never compare your autistic child with a normal kid, accept him for what he is, otherwise you will always be frustrated with his development. Be happy with his accomplishments, celebrate small successes, and stop worrying about his delays.

Be positive.

Know that the future of your autistic child depends a lot on your support with his therapy. There is always help out there for him to grow and develop his abilities.

Remember your autistic child is not a burden even though taking care of him might be a big challenge with lots of struggles.

He will always give joy to your family especially watching him grow and develop himself.

His innocence is a gift, his dependence on you will always give you a feeling of being his protector.

Celebrate his developments,  don’t focus on his delays.

Join the World Autism Awareness Day

Celebrated every April 2nd , this is a special day declared by The United Nations General Assembly  that acknowledges the need to focus on the enhancement on the quality of life of those with autism so they can become productive members of society and lead full lives.

Related post: How to Spread the Word of Love.. Ten Songs to Celebrate World Autism Awareness Day

Your child and your family is one with the other families and the whole world in rejoicing during this special day.  Encourage your whole family to join and have fun!

World Autism Awareness
Every 2nd of April, the world celebrates all children with autism.

 

Do you have a child with autism or know somebody with autism spectrum disorder?
Please share your story with us. We would like to hear from you.
Post your comments below.

 

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Author: Marita

I am a doctor by profession who had several years of clinical practice as a Pediatrician and General Practitioner. At present, I work as a Clinical Research Assistant in a large university. Pangga ta ikaw remembers fondly a loved one who passed away and making her demise more meaningful. Supporting children with special needs in our hometown in the Philippines through Special Education is our main focus and through this website, we also aim at making everyone realize that special kids need our love and support.

34 thoughts on “How to Tell if your Child has Autism( Look for the Common Signs )”

  1. What a wonderful site. I have never personally known anyone who suffers from Autism and I wouldn’t even know what to have looked out for as signs when my children were young. So much insight and I think a very helpful site for parents who do have Autistic children. Site layout is simplistic and easy to navigate. Job well done.

    1. Hi Kerry,

      Thank you so much for the nice comments.

      Lucky for you to have all normal kids.Indeed we tend to overlook things or signs when everything is okey for us, especially for our children.

      I really made my post simple and clear so parents can easily understand what to look for in their kids.

      God bless,

      Marita

  2. Thank you so much for this information. I am a teacher and although I don’t see children of the age you are really describing in the article I really think it is important that this message is communicated to parents worldwide so that the signs can be spotted early. I think there is a stigma around autism that stems from misunderstanding and confusion about the condition, as I feel it is often confused with other conditions.
    I’d love to know what your experience has been with getting the situation diagnosed as I know it can be a struggle sometimes to get people to take you seriously. What has been your experience or that of people you know?

    1. Hi Gail,

      You’re right, the early signs can be overlooked by parents and even Pediatricians, thus it is really important that parents be properly educated. And I encourage all parents to visit regularly their doctors and ask questions if they spot something unusual in their kids. 

      I have a nephew who has been diagnosed with autism. He is now 11 years old but still unable to talk, or rather began to talk with a few words when he was younger, but had regression  and stopped talking. He also has Down syndrome. It’s just fortunate that both his parents are nurses and they do understand and support him all the way.

      Definitely, autistic kids need to be diagnosed as early as possible so they can have proper interventions.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      God bless,

      Marita

  3. This article has a lot of great information. My brother is autistic and I remember him having to have some come over and use educational toys to help him learn. I have a 4 month old and i was wondering if autism can be genetic? And is there any evidence that vaccination can cause autism in children?

    1. Hi Rachel,

      I read this from WiKiPedia. ” Autism has a strong genetic basis, although the genetics of autism is complex and it is unclear whether autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is explained more by multigene interactions or by rare mutations with major effects.[1]” That means it depends on mutations or alterations in chromosomes and more than one gene is implicated for each autistic individual, thus it’s a case to case basis. It doesn’t always follow that if you have it in your family , you will always see it in the next generation.

      Lastly, there have been no studies linking vaccines to autism, it’s more of coincidence.

      How old is your brother now?

      Thanks for your comments.

      Marita

  4. Hello
    I am a special needs educational assistant. I have been working in a special needs diagnostic classroom for close to 20 years. Our classroom services children from grade 1 to grade 3. Many of the children leave our class with a diagnosis of autism. I often wonder why these children have not been diagnosed sooner. Most of them have had bad school experiences and people did not know why or what was going on with their children.
    I liked your article because it focuses on children at a much younger age than the ones I see.
    If people can be educated to look for the signs sooner then perhaps some children will not have to go through so many struggles before getting help and resources.
    Great article! Great topic! Best wishes to you!
    Angela

    1. Hi Angela,

      You must be a very patient person to have worked that long as a special needs educational assistant. I honor you for doing that job. 

      You are right, autistic kids need to be diagnosed really early for them to have early intervention. Parents have a special role in this since they are with their kids most of the time and they are able to observe them more than other people.

      Thanks for passing by.

      God bless,

      Marita

  5. Thank you, Marita, for your post on autistic children and how to tell if my child has that disorder.  All five of my children are grown now, and while none were autistic, I did have a mentally and physically disabled daughter, now an adult.  Your post was inspiring!  I especially liked your advice to know your child well, love him or her unconditionally, and be positive.  There is joy to be found in forgetting yourself and serving others, especially when the person you are serving is a family member with special needs.  I agree with you, these children are deserving of our love and care.

    1. Hi Grant,

      Glad that I inspired you with this post.

      Kids with autism spectrum disorder and other special kids do need our unconditional love for sure. I know you experienced that with your daughter.

      Thanks for reading.

      Marita

  6. Hi,

    What a great article I just read? I once knew someone who suffers from autism. She was my friends first child at my formal resignation but the good thing is that, the mum noticed in time and she was quickly placed under medical help.

    Aside from this baby, I have not seen or notice anybody suffering from one again. It’s really nice to read more about it from your website and I can say I was able to grab one or two things.

    Regards,

    Olushola.

    1. Hi Olushola,

      Glad that you have learned something from my post. Happy as well that your friend brought her child with autism for early evaluation and sought help. I hope she is developing and progressing really well.

      Do you still see this child? If so, how is she now?

      Marita

  7. I used to operate a child day care center in my home. One little boy, in particular, came to mind when I read your article. He was an infant when I first started keeping him and he seemed to be developing normally. He had about a dozen words or phrases that he spoke and he interacted well with me and was able to communicate his needs.

    Slowly, he began to retreat into a shell. He refused to play with new toys and wanted to do the same rituals over and over and over. We spent a huge part of our day rolling hickory nuts down the slide in the backyard. If I didn’t prepare his food the same way each time, he would get very upset.

    Soon, he lost his ability to talk. He would pull me to where he wanted me to be and I usually knew what he wanted but it was a sad transformation.

    I know that his parents took him for an evaluation and had him in special classes but I never found out what came out of that. I am guessing it was autism.

    I’m glad to see that you have a website to help people understand more about autism. It would have helped me.

    1. Hi Theresa,

      From what you described of that boy, he seemed to develop  autism and I’m happy that the parents brought him for evaluation and eventually enrolled him in special education classes.

      These kid , if helped and supported early on have great capacity to develop to their fullest potential.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Marita

  8. This is very informative post on early signs of autism. You did very well by highlighting the ages and expected achievements at each level of development. I love the fact that you mentioned each individual uniqueness and differences. In as much as we may have urgent questions about our child’s  developmental functions, we should also consider the environment and ensure we provide nurturing and stimulating environment to our child, As you rightly pointed out, we expect them to imitate, so we have to ensure we provide them what to imitate Great post and information on autism.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Gina,

      You are right, parents need to provide nurturing environments to their kids and of course, if despite these you still notice that your child is not developing according to his age, then, by all means go see a doctor for evaluation.

      God bless,

      Marita

  9. I appreciate this article and how it can be observed in a child if it might have autism.

    I always wondered how I, as a non-professional, can detect these things and if so will it be in time and can something be done about it?

    I certainly have found some valuable answers in your article. I also see some book recommendations on your site and I will take advantage of it to educate myself more.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge, appreciated.

    1. Hi Sylvia,

      I know, signs of autism can be subtle and not easy to see, but if you are a parent, anything odd or different about your child should let you be alarmed or, especially if you can compare his development with your other kids or other children for that matter.

      Thanks for reading.

      Marita

  10.  Autism as it sounds tries to deprive a child of fully functioning brain and this may really depress the parent because I have someone close to me that have this issue. What I can say about their case is that they are not aware enough of the signs of this disorder. 

    In my own case, I salute the admin because I learnt something new today so that this won’t be my case when I start my own family and raising children. Thank you very much. Good job. 

    1. I’m happy that you learned something from this post.

      I hope you can encourage the parents of that child with this issue (  do you think it is autism? ) to read more or ask questions from their doctor, so the child can be evaluated properly and be helped.

      God bless,

      Marita

  11. Thank you so much for this educative article. I wish every parents can have a copy of this very informative write up. I have come across people with autism, most times I ask my self why the parents cannot spot the symptoms early so that they can find solutions to it. 

    What is the cause of autism and how can parent, especially mothers prevent it? 

    1. Hi Abiodun,

      Parents need to be educated of the signs of autism or even just be very observant of their kids, so they can spot really early the signs, if ever.

      As of now, doctors cannot pinpoint any cause of autism, but studies have shown that it is genetic and runs in families. So an autistic mom has the great possibility of having an autistic baby. And it is not uncommon for twins or siblings to have the autism spectrum disorder.

      Autism cannot be prevented, unfortunately. These kids just need to be suppported with early assesment and proper intervention so they can develop to their fullest potential.

      Thanks for passing by.

      Marita

  12. This is a very important page to read, I never really knew the sign or what to look for in a child that might have autism. School is very important to know where they will be successful and grow. What I do know is that autism is not the end of the world but it’s the beginning of seeing the world through their eyes. Really enjoy your page 

    1. Hi Claudia,

      It’s true,  we have to accept that kids with autism have their own little world and we have to understand them the best that we could. 

      Thanks for reading.

      Marita

  13. Hi and thank you Marita for this wonderful article. Special thanks for everything you do for those kids. I’m glad I came across your article, because it is very important to understand what to look for in early stages of kids life. And I’m sure this article is golden for young people who just become parents or waiting to be one. Thanks again.

  14. My little cousin has Autism of some kind. I’m trying to learn how to tell if that kid is which type of Autistic. I know he is sometimes okay in a crowd but often he will shut down or freak out and have some sort of a meltdown. He is very sensitive to sudden loud noises I have noticed. He seems to be maybe a high functioning autistic kid though, as I don’t really notice anything until he has his reactions to noise or completely shuts down and doesn’t respond to anything. What do you think? Thanks I appreciate it.

    1. Your cousin needs to be submitted for assessment. Advice his parents to bring him to his Pediatrician or Family doctor so he can be referred to a Developmental Pediatrician.

      How old is he now? You’re right, it looks that he is having those meltdowns which are common signs of autism.

      After assessment, he can be referred for some therapies to help with his meltdowns and other difficulties.

      Thanks for reading.

      Marita

  15. It is very nice to see you with some very good help here in this discourse. I totally agree with everything you have written here because a friend of mine has a sister who has been winning to autism. 

    The signs are shown from when she was young but they didn’t know or take note of it till she grew a bit older. 

    Your post is very useful so I think I need to share it. Nice talk!

    1. Hi Henderson,

      Has your friend’s sister been brought for assessment? Even if she’s older, it’s still best for her to have a proper diagnosis so she can have some interventions to help her with her difficulties and challenges.

      Thanks for reading and sharing.

      Cheers,

      Marita

  16. I have never grown up with anyone who  has autism so this post is very awesome because you have dealt with the topic in a very good way and also given the hints on what to look out for when the child is at his or her young. I am not a parent but I will be someday so your detail here is very cool. I feel that this should be a wave of awareness because people do not know that autism can be dealt with. Good article.

    1. Hi John,

      Autism awareness is for everyone, whether you know somebody or not. You never know when you will have an encounter with a kid or a grown up with autism. 

      Of course, if you are aware of their signs, you will be more understanding of why they act this way or that. Or why you see them having meltdowns in a public place.

      Thanks for reading.

      Marita

  17. Hi Marita,

    A well written article on the signs of autism. Back in the 1980’s there was none of this available for parents and Dr’s had very little understanding of autism at all. Now, thanks to research and the internet we have so much more information to hand.  
    My niece was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome last year which is making everything much easier for her parents to understand. They were really frustrated with her slow development but now know the reason why and can adjust everything to ensure she is comfortable in her environment. 
    Thank you for bringing these early signs to attention. 

    Tony

    1. Hi Tony,

      I’m glad that I am able to help parents out there to clear things about signs of autism that they observe in their kids and encourage them to seek help. 

      Of course, with internet, everything seems easy these days.

      Happy to know as well, that your niece and her parents are getting help for her.

      Thanks for reading.

      Marita

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