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Family & Relationships

Autism – What is It and How to Identify Early Signs

August 20, 2022

During the early stages of childhood, parents may notice certain signs of autism. These signs should be taken seriously and discussed with a physician. Early intervention may include occupational, speech, and physical therapy. Early identification can also be facilitated by watching behaviors, such as repetitive behavior and eye contact. A doctor can conduct applied behavior analysis Edison NJ, and suggest therapy for a child with autism. 

Early Intervention

While early signs of autism can be challenging, they are crucial for a child’s development. Some children show early signs of autism as young as nine months old, while others show them around age three. While the early symptoms of autism vary by child and the severity of their condition, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screening children at ages nine months, 18 months, and 24 months. Therefore, observe your child from birth for signs of autism and seek help early.

Despite the increased accuracy in the diagnosis of autism, this approach comes with a cost. If a child were diagnosed at a young age, they would be more likely to respond positively to early intervention. Early intervention has been shown to lead to better outcomes than later interventions. Among other factors, children with autism have lower motivation for social interaction and restricted interests.

Occupational, Speech, and Physical Therapy

While there is no cure for autism, occupational, speech, and physical therapy can improve many aspects of a child’s life. Physical therapy improves gross motor skills and sensory integration and teaches basic skills. This therapy is most effective when integrated into an early intervention program. Occupational therapists are trained in sensory integration, which helps them develop treatment plans based on an individual child’s specific needs.

Some of the first warning signs of autism are noticeable as early as two years old. Babies should enjoy their parents’ company, interact with other children, and recognize colors and shapes. They should also be able to play pretend or engage in activities that don’t require them to make eye contact. Children with autism are unable to follow simple directions or interact with others in a meaningful way.

Observing Behaviors

Observing behaviors in autism can be challenging to notice, especially in young children. These children often exhibit repetitive movements or actions. While some typically developing babies exhibit these behaviors from time to time, autistic children exhibit them much more frequently. For example, they may not make eye contact with their caregivers and may not follow the pointed finger of the person holding it. They may be highly interested in a particular band or sports team or the taxonomy of butterflies.

Observing behavior in autism and identifying early signs involves noticing how young children spend their time. Observe if they spend more time with toys or objects than people. Babbling is usually a two-way process; children should take turns with their caregivers. When a child doesn’t imitate their caregivers, this is another early sign of autism.

Treatment Options

In addition to traditional medical therapies, many people with autism take medications to help them manage symptoms. Medications can increase focus, reduce anxiety and address aggression. Physicians often prescribe these drugs to improve the lives of children with autism.

While these medications may be beneficial, it’s essential to work closely with your healthcare provider to ensure you’re using them in the best possible way. Some medicines may even cause harm to some people.

People with autism have different levels of affect and mood, which make it difficult to differentiate them from neurotypical children. Some may be unaware of their emotions, while others may be highly emotional and withdrawn.

Some may also express affection in indiscriminate ways. Although early diagnosis is critical, treatment options vary greatly, so it’s crucial to seek a professional’s help early. You may even find that you self-diagnose yourself if you think you might have autism without the assistance of a professional.

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