Although a parent can’t make a diagnosis, it helps to have an idea of what to look out for. The neurologist and educational psychologist can make the final diagnosis. Here are some autism symptoms to look out for:
- When you child does not make eye contact with you or other family members or peers
- Your child does not respond to his/her name when called by a familiar voice
- Doesn’t follow objects in front of him/her or gesture you make for the child e.g. pointing to an object
- Doesn’t imitate your movements
- If your child does not make sound to get your attention
- Doesn’t play with others or share their enjoyment with you or his/her peers
- Does not notice when he/she got hurt or does not care when they hurt
- Prefers no physical contact
- Doesn’t react when other talk or other stimuli in the background e.g. glass falls or car crash
- Abnormal social interactions, failure to have conversations e.g. share interests or make statements or to ask questions
- Difficulty in understanding relationships and making friends
- Repetitive behaviours
- Stereotyped behaviours e.g. spinning car wheel and staring at the wheel , lining up toys , staring at toys from the corner of the eye
Stereotypy comes in different forms:
- Physical stereotypy: Hand flapping, tensing of body etc.
- Visual stereotypy: Spinning items that are not meant to be spun, staring at items from a different angle etc.
- Auditory stereotypy: Banging items, tapping objects etc.
Most stereotypy behaviours is automatic and the child is not aware that they are doing this
- Inflexibility: This can be not wanting to put on pj’s until after they have bathed or all doors must be closed at all times or even when an object is moved from its usual place, as well as difficulties in transition.
- Fixated interest: When a child is fixated on abnormal items for example his baby blanket from 10years ago or his first dummy.
- Sensitive to sensory aspects e.g. sensitive to textures, sound, smell, temperature, touch , taste.
- Delayed language
- Lack of interest in peers or other people/family members
- Unusual social interactions e.g. running around not chasing anyone or pulling peers around but not playing with them
- Unusual communication patterns e.g. knowing all his/her favourite moving scene and can say each word in a movie but not asking for anything he/she needs or call someone when he/she needs help.
Tantrums: This can be for many functions including:
- Tantrum for tangible: When he/she cries for an object he/she cannot get or that is taken away from them
- Tantrum for escape: When a demand is placed on the child and he/she does not want to comply
- Tantrum of attention: This is when the child will cry for your or someone’s attention to be directed to them
Autism is approximately 4.5 times more common in boys than in girls. Remember you can’t make a diagnosis but you can see what your child does and be prepared when a doctor asks you about any symptoms your child might have.