How do I recognise the early signs and symptoms of autism in my child?

20th Feb 18 | Lifestyle

Autism can look different in different people.

Mother and son on the sofa

Every child is different and kids tend to develop at their own pace. However, there are certain developmental milestones all children should reach by specific ages, and if they’re struggling to keep up, it could be a sign they are autistic.

Autism is a spectrum of closely related disorders that affect how people perceive the world and interact with others. Autism Spectrum Disorder mainly affect a person’s social interaction and communication, with symptoms that can include speech disturbances, repetitive and/or compulsive behaviour, hyperactivity, anxiety, and difficulty adapting to new environments.

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As a spectrum condition that can vary from person to person, it can be hard to spot the signs and symptoms. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways and with different levels of severity.

To help parents get earlier diagnosis of autism in their children, scientists in Britain say they have developed a blood and urine test that can detect the disorder. Researchers at the University of Warwick said the test, believed to be the first of its kind, will help both parents and children living with ASD get appropriate treatment much earlier in their lives.

Scientists say their research found a link between ASD and damage to proteins in blood plasma, finding that children with ASD had higher levels of the oxidation marker dityrosine (DT) and certain sugar-modified compounds called advanced glycation end-products (AGEs).

Autism affects around 1 in 100 of us, and the test will certainly be a game-changer for many parents of autistic children. However, as it’s still in development (and it’ll likely be a few years before it becomes available), parents will need to be vigilant when it comes to spotting the early signs of autism themselves.

Little baby crawls on floor in black background.

Here, we’ve outlined some of the early signs of autism in infants and older children to look out for.  If you’re concerned about your child’s development, don’t wait – talk to your doctor to get a diagnosis, as treatment can reduce the disorder’s effects and can help your child to thrive.

Early signs

Your baby or toddler doesn’t:

– Make eye contact, or look at you when smiling or when being smiled at
– Respond to his or her name
– Follow objects visually or follow your gesture when you point things out
– Point or 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
– Imitate your movements and facial expressions
– Play with other people or share interest and enjoyment
– Notice or care if you hurt yourself or experience discomfort

Signs in older children

7 year old boy sitting near the window and playing tablet

– Appears disinterested or unaware of other people or what’s going on around them
– Struggles to connect with other children, play or make friends
– Prefers not to be touched, held or cuddled
– Doesn’t play “pretend” games, engage in group games, imitate others, or use toys in creative ways
– Has trouble understanding feelings or talking about them
– Doesn’t seem to hear when others talk to him or her
– Doesn’t share interests or achievements with others
– Doesn’t recognise sarcasm or joking
– Speaks in a flat or robotic tone of voice, or with an odd rhythm or pitch (e.g. ends every sentence as if asking a question)
– Repeats the same words or phrases
– Responds to a question by repeating it, rather than answering it
– Inability to stay on topic when answering a question
– Uses language incorrectly (grammatical errors, wrong words) or refers to him or herself in the third person
– Has difficulty communicating needs or desires
-Doesn’t understand simple directions, statements or questions

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© Press Association 2018