Autism Awareness: Early Signs, Myths & Facts

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be described as an umbrella term which includes various neuro-developmental disabilities or in simpler terms we can say those developmental disabilities which are caused by the differences in the brain. Children with ASD frequently struggle to communicate or play with their peers, maintain eye contact, and so on. Some children may show some of these symptoms as well, such as rigid attitude, repeated movements or posturing of the body, arms, hands, or fingers. A susceptible child with ASD may be highly disturbed by sounds, touching, scents, or sights that do not bother others. They may struggle in some areas, but they have remarkably developed skills in others, such as sketching, making music, mathematics. problem solving, and fact remembering. As a result, they may score higher on nonverbal intelligence tests, even if their IQ is in the ordinary or above- average range. Such children may have different ways of learning, moving, or paying attention. Because there is no medical test for Autism, such as a blood test, diagnosing the problem can be challenging.

To make a diagnosis, doctors look at the child’s developmental history and behaviour. ASD can be recognised in children as young as 18 months old. An assessment from an experienced practitioner can be regarded as reliable by the age of two. Many children, however, do not obtain a definitive diagnosis until they are much older. Some others aren’t diagnosed until they are in their twenties or thirties. In young toddlers, the diagnostic characteristics of ASD might be easily overlooked. Looking for red flags or early indicators of ASD may aid in identifying children who are at risk for the disorder and require a clinical examination. It is critical to recognize children with ASD as soon as possible so that they can receive the resources and support they need to achieve their full potential. This procedure is divided into multiple steps. Not every child with autism exhibits all of the symptoms. Whereas, many children who do not have autism, display a couple of these red flags, which is why expert examination is critical for recognising early symptoms. If you notice any of the following signs, it is possible that your child is developing unusually. Parents should speak with an expert about this and request further evaluation.

The following are red flags or early symptoms of autism in toddlers:

Babies learn to understand their name by the age of six months and will answer it by turning their head or making another clear gesture. One of the first strong indicators is that autism- affected children do not respond to their names. They may also avoid eye contact with their caregivers and may not look at somebody.

By the age of nine months, there may be little or no sharing of smiles or other facial expressions like nodding. A child is usually highly curious about the world around them, checking out everything with their hands and mouth. The kid responds to emotions and is playful. A child with ASD, on the other hand, may not want to express physical affection, and the caregiver may have difficulties getting the baby to cuddle. There may also be physical developmental delays, such as the inability to roll over, hold up the head, or sit without support.

A child should begin to grow more emotional at the age of 12 months, such as crying when the caregiver leaves the room and refusing to play with strangers. The child will become more sensitive to their loved one’s presence and absence. Another important sign of ASD is a child’s inability to say short words or phrases, such as “dada”, “mama” or the lack of use of meaningful words and forms of communication at this age.

Around the age of two, a child should begin to enjoy the company of and interacting with other children. A child will gradually become more independent and even better behaved. There will be significant improved verbal communication, colour and shape recognition, and

the ability to play, pretend like doll house or saving the world with superman. While considering the development of ASD children, there might be major symptoms in behaviour,

such as knowing fewer than 15 words and being unable to articulate phrases correctly. The child may not know what to do with a toothbrush, eating

utensils, or how to use a toy phone. Physical developmental delays, like not walking by 18 months or just walking on tiptoes, are

some major indications in ASD.

Seek a recommendation to a developmental specialist or consult for an early intervention programme if you or your child’s doctor has concerns about developing ASD. Children with autism signs are frequently much prepared and able to overcome common obstacles and integrate into society when intervention starts early. There is little or no understanding about autism spectrum disorder. Owing to which, people end up believing in myths. Awareness is necessary to bust these myths about ASD.

Following are the myths that are believed by people:

Myth 1: All the behaviour problems in a child are due to not able to speak or speech

Myth 2: People with autism are afraid of being touched.

Although this is true for some children with high sensory sensitivity, many children with Autism adore hugs, mild massages, and other forms of touch.

Bursting Myth 2: Autism is caused by vaccines. There is no proof that vaccination given to children cause autism. Studies. continue to prove that vaccines have no direct link to the development of autism.

Bursting Myth 3: Individuals with autism are violent.

Though there have been recent news articles linking autism to violence but

autistic aggression is mainly the result of sensory overload or mental discomfort, and it is uncommon for autistic children to act violently. Because social settings can be confusing and anxiety provoking, many parents prefer to minimize their child’s exposure and interactions with others.

Bursting Myth 4: People with autism are cold and lack empathetic feelings.

Individuals with autism feel empathy just as much as others but they may express it in less useful ways. If they are highly stressed or if they are expected to express concern in a more “normal” manner, some children with autism may seem “cold” or “insensitive”;

Bursting Myth 5: Autism can be cured.

Autism spectrum disorders currently have no cure. Early and extensive behavioural treatment, on the other hand, can often minimize the intensity of symptoms and assist children in developing adaptive skills for everyday life, emotion and behaviour regulation.