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Autism: Know The Signs And Symptoms Of Autism In Children

Autism is a development disorder in children which affects child's behaviour and ability to communicate and interact. In this article, a child psychologist explains the symptoms of autism in children and what to so when diagnosed with autism.

Autism: Know The Signs And Symptoms Of Autism In Children

Autism affects the communication skills of the child


  1. Child with autism may avoid eye contact
  2. Autism can affect behaviour of the child
  3. Educating others about autism can help build a happy environment

With mental health issues on the rise and with pandemic adding to it, one of the neglected sections has been children especially children with special needs. Adding to their misery are closed schools, therapy centers, no social interaction and mental pressure due to the time-loss. With parents worried about taking care of their children, this is high time that we get more vocal about the challenges faced by individuals and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Medical professionals tend to see a lot of cases where the ideal time period for intervention and treatment has already passed. As a result, treatments get tough and highly complicated for all parties involved thus resulting in further delay. It becomes more pertinent in children with autism as early diagnosis and early intervention is the key and most important aspect. So how does one prevent such delays as a parent and ensure that their child gets the necessary treatment at the right time?

In autism early signs of the illness can be seen in babies by 9 to 12 months, however, formal diagnosis is not given before the age of 24 months (2 years).

Many children with autism symptoms show regression in developmental mostly by the age of 18 months (30 months) or so even after having typical milestones until then. These children show a typical developmental pattern until first or two years of life but then there is a loss of previously acquired social emotional and communication skills. Therefore, being aware of your child's behavioral traits, at least for the first couple of years, is extremely important.

Also read: Is Autism A Disability Or Difference? The Community Is Divided

Some of the early signs of autims that parents should look out for, and these are listed by the 'The National Autism Association', are: -

  • The child avoiding eye contact
  • The child not playing 'pretend' games or imitating actions
  • The child wants to be alone
  • The child flips their hands, rocks their body and/or spins in circles
  • The child has no to low social skills or social interactions

Symptoms of autism need medical assistance to manage the condition effectively
Photo Credit: iStock

These traits can be symptoms of autism but can also indicate other problems. Therefore, if you do notice such traits in a child, consulting your pediatrician/developmental pediatrician or child/clinical psychologist is highly recommended. Once you realise that your child has autism, what do you do next?

The next best step would be to get your child a therapy plan because early intervention is highly effective and enhances chances of mainstreaming the child. A child's brain is like hot metal and early intervention can be the iron that'll help the brain into developing better. The neuroplasticity of a child's brain allows it to adapt and so skills and behaviour can be modified better at an earlier age, thus preventing it from turning into a lifelong habit. Getting specialized education, language and behavior therapy can thus be seen as a part of early intervention.

Also read: Mums-To-Be, Your Gut May Hold The Answer To Autism In Newborns

There is an abundance of information on specialised education that is available for children with special needs, and this can be a problem. Parents tend to get overwhelmed with the amount of information they must process and understand once they find out their child has autism and so choosing a specialised plan can be a daunting task.

Also read: Fever During Pregnancy Might Elevate The Risk Of Autism In Children

The final aspect that should be discussed, but one that's most overlooked, is coping with an autism diagnosis. Most parents feel overwhelmed and stressed when a child in the family is first diagnosed with autism. So naturally, their first response is to jump into action and figure out how best to help their child without any further delay. However, most families miss a step and forget that they need time to process and accept this diagnosis that will change their lives forever. Parents need to find a way to tackle the added responsibility that comes with having a child with autism. They can adopt a range of strategies like:

  • Letting the news sink in and taking your time with accepting the diagnosis
  • Remembering that the diagnosis does not define your child or your family
  • Focusing on your own emotional needs from time to time
  • Educating others around you about autism

Diagnosing and seeking therapies for your child with autism is just the first step towards living a productive life. There are multiple organisations out there that cater to children with special needs and along with it support parents and families to deal with the emotional baggage that comes with such a diagnosis.

(Satinder Kaur Walia is a child psychologist. She works as a Clinical Head at Mom's Belief which is a holistic care provider for children with developmental needs. She has 20 years of experience in working with individuals with disabilities both in India and as well as in USA.)

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