Is my child autistic?


I remember when this thought first crossed my mind. I noticed that my son had no preferences. He would take whatever was offered. When given a choice, he would echo the last option. “Would you like milk or juice?” He would say juice. If I quickly said, “Wait, did you say juice or milk?” He would say milk. Same expression, no hesitation. My pediatrician called that echolalia and referred me to a child psychiatrist and a neurologist.

Of course there were other signs as well. A lot of the signs start around two and a half or three years. Some of them are subtle and you’ll miss them, especially if this is your first child and you are unaware of normal development milestones.

You will sense something referred to as “deficits in social reciprocity.” These children have a problem with back and forth, with social expectation. You may see it in a lack of gestures, waiving hello and goodbye is a good one. Do loud sounds interest your child? Spark a curiosity, or does he stay on task without interruption. You might also find that your child will wander off as you are speaking, lose focus and interrupt.

Play will be interesting, but not typical. My son liked to organize the dinosaurs in like groups from small to large, but he never played with them. He enjoyed parallel play, but not interactive play. He was intolerant of items being out of order.

In addition, a child with an autism spectrum disorder may have uncontrollable, sometimes irrational temper tantrums. My son had a fight or flight instinct that one time had him hiding between cars at his Kindergarten’s parking lot. There could also be extreme resistance to change, and over- or under-sensitivity to sights and sounds.

The signs may be deceptive: the three year old who builds intricate models of castles, but doesn’t engage in peek a boo or hide and seek.

No one knows your child better than you. You will sense that something is not right. And when you do the first time you will likely dismiss it. But if it happens repeatedly, if you notice your child doesn’t engage at the park like other children or like his siblings, talk honestly with your pediatrician. Early diagnosis and intervention makes a huge difference, for your child and for you.

Source: First Signs


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