What are signs of autism in children? can naturally be one of the first questions we as parents ask ourselves when we receive a diagnosis, or have suspicions about your child being on the autism spectrum.
We again can only share what we’ve experienced with our autistic son, but some of these may help if you have your concerns, and are wondering, as we were, whether the behaviours of your child in certain situations were so called ‘normal/typical’ or not.
The first year
(Andre the day of his 12 month immunisations)
In the first year or so, a few subtle things we started to notice, that we’ve since learned are all associated with typical signs of autism included:
- Often little to no response to loud noises, but an extreme reaction to other seemingly harmless noises.
- Not responding to his name when we called to him.
- Lack of baby talk, Andre didn’t really start saying even the typically one syllable words he now says until he was around 2.5 years. Our daughter, who is now approaching 1 year is already saying much more developed sounds than we saw in our son at her age, so thus far the diagnosis seems accurate.
- Didn’t really have a huge desire for cuddles or closeness a lot of the time.
- Would rarely smile in social situations, and would get very upset if too many people (anymore than 2 really) tried to talk to him at once, or look in on him in his pram/cot.
The two-year mark:
- By this stage the lack of speech and words in general, compared to others of our son’s age, was getting more and more concerning.
- Andre was still showing what seemed to be a lack of understanding to any simple instructions we gave, or questions we asked him-to this day it is still difficult to get a simple yes or no sadly.
- He started really getting attached to certain objects, and would practically become obsessed with what was usually 2 items, they went everywhere he went, including to bed-and could be the most random things-often not toys. Within days, he would do the same with other objects.
- We were definitely starting to see a pattern of how he liked things lined up in certain ways, toys, food, all kinds of things.
- Getting Andre to imitate anything we did was still tricky at this stage, even celebrating a win with a high five, he didn’t quite grasp-and still has trouble with to this day.
Up to 36 months and beyond:
Once our son hit 3 and we were still seeing a massive gap in his vocabulary compared to his peers, we were glad to be on the wait list to see a paediatrician.
No matter what we tried to help him talk, the words just didn’t flow. This is of course still a huge work in progress for us, trying to develop Andre’s vocab so he can better communicate he wants and needs.
- By the age of three Andre had developed some pretty massive routines, around almost everything. These routines have involved what needs to be the first TV show in the morning, or in the car, what he eats, wears, the list goes on. This is very common with ASD, and as is common, our boy is very regimented with these routines, practically all hell breaks loose if there is any change-which is of course inevitable with most things unfortunately.
- Pretend type play, that we’d seen in many other children, did not seem to interest our son.
Although we bought him things like this mini kitchen set up, and various other bits and pieces to encourage pretend or ‘imaginative’ play, Andre never really took to this sort of thing at all, or really showed interest whatsoever.
- As was concurrent with all of our son’s routines, he developed a deeper sensitivity to certain sounds, smells and tastes. This has happened even with some of his ‘Wiggles’ episodes, he’ll be loving it, dancing along one second, then 2 seconds later he’s crying, upset and trying to turn it off when there’s a certain sound or melody playing.
This is of course very hard to predict with some things, but as he is a creature of habit, we have since learned things we can do, and things we need to avoid if we don’t want another temper tantrum.
- Andre was still showing very little interest in playing with other children at his childcare facility, and would often be off somewhere quite happily playing by himself, whilst everyone else was reading a story or elsewhere.
- Our son certainly had some various sensitivity type issues as well that become more and more prominent at this age. For us these included a hatred for the feel and texture of things like play doh, a hatred for just about any food that wasn’t chicken nuggets.
We also found Andre would often sit in his kiddy swimming pool until he was shivering and starting to look a little blue-yet would try to continue to sit there, and not react to the obvious temperature issues his body was experiencing.
As I write this, we are a few months away from Andre turning four, and most of these routines, sensitivities and reactions are still present today in our home. We have recently finished the initial portion of our son’s therapy, which has given us many tools and strategies to work with moving forward, but definitely a huge work in progress.
When can I find out?
We were initially told that we wouldn’t be able to receive any kind of ASD type diagnosis anytime before the age of 2, and our son’s came only when he was just over 3 years old, but I have read a lot that this can be possible from the age of about 24 months.
If your child is regularly demonstrating these types of symptoms of behaviours, ASD could be a worthy consideration, but obviously you also don’t want to jump to conclusions.
Because every child is naturally different-and the symptoms or tell-tale signs of ASD can vary drastically from child to child.
At our son’s paediatrician appointment, when we received his diagnosis, we were also told that if his words didn’t develop drastically by the age of four, he may never speak fully.
With some of the online, local autism groups we are a part of, we have seen many examples of kids who were told the same thing, and given the same ‘severe’ diagnosis as our son, and our now in their 20s, working regular jobs, in retail and related fields, and have overcome these obstacles despite earlier predictions.
There are some good documentaries out there that share some similar, inspiring examples-I particularly recommend Louis Theroux’s autism special. These examples have shown me what a dramatic impact early intervention can have too.
As I write this, we are a few months away from Andre turning four, and most of these routines, sensitivities and reactions are still present today in our home.
We have recently finished the initial portion of our son’s therapy, which has given us many tools and strategies to work with moving forward, but definitely a huge work in progress.
My wife and I just want to do everything we possibly can to give our son the best possible chance of succeeding in life and in everything he puts his mind to.
Time has been the main thing that works against us, with us both working full time, both dealing with our post surgery injuries and related nerve pain and trying to implement what we’ve learned.
The next stage of his therapy is one on one sessions, which we are looking forward to with hope of seeing some good results soon.
As always, we will continue to share any new learnings, lessons and experiences we go through, in hopes it may help any of you out there who may be going through similar situations.
Our two main objectives with creating this website are to help shed light on some areas of autism people may be going through, and to learn more about creating websites, affiliate marketing, and trying to find ways to replace our 9-5 jobs so that we can dedicate all of our time to our family and to the work needed to assist, support and guide our son on his journey down the autism spectrum.