We’re often asked about whether a child is ‘on the autism spectrum’, so we thought we’d explore how autism can present, and whether it’s something to be concerned about …
Sometimes Grandparents make parents worry!
But sometimes the worry of a parent is just that - healthy concern for the children you look after every day.
These are the little people you take care of, the children you want to be happy all of the time, wanting them to hit all of their milestones like talking and walking and even having their first tantrum.
You watch them like hawks so it is only natural that you will witness how they react to certain situations, what they are like on their own and in the company of others - how difficult it is to get them up and dressed for nursery or school on a Monday morning!
Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
The symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are wide-ranging and include:
- Delayed speech development, loss of language skills or formal/unusual speech content
- Unusual tone, rate or volume of speech, including speaking in an American accent
- Repetition of other people's speech (can include the speech of TV characters etc.)
- Repetitive play, such as lining up toys or objects
- Lack of imagination or creativity in play
- Difficulty using and reading non-verbal communication (e.g. eye contact, gesture, facial expression)
- Failure to initiate interaction with others for purely social purposes; may initiate if they need help or if it is related to their interests
- Unusual response to social situations; may not respond at all, or their response may be limited
- Lack of reciprocity; interactions may feel one-sided and they may not express interest in the other person
- Lack of interest in children and/or difficulty maintaining friendships
- Sensitivity to sensory experiences (e.g. noise) or sensory-seeking behaviour
- Unusual hand or body movements
- Interests that are unusual in their topic or in their level of intensity
- Preference for routine and sameness, and anxiety if something unexpected happens
But did you know that many of these symptoms can also be a part of the perfectly normal development of a child……
Children are all different - they grow in different ways, learn in different ways, and react in different ways.
And just because your child has a tantrum because he doesn’t want to leave the house, or won’t go anywhere until his or her laces have been tied in exactly the way they want - or even force you to walk the same way to school each day (past the house with the cat in the window) it doesn’t mean they are ‘on the autism spectrum’.
But, if you are feeling a little concerned, our advice would be:
- If the ‘symptoms’ are not causing your child any issues, it’s perfectly sensible to just watch and wait, and see how your child develops.
- If your child is unhappy or distressed and is struggling day-to-day, the only way to get clarity about whether a condition like ASD is underpinning their difficulties is to seek an opinion from a team that specialises in child development and ASD.
- Whilst Google and the advice of family and friends can be helpful, there are many myths out there about ASD and seeking advice from these sources can sometimes lead to more confusion.
Above all, trust your gut… mother’s intuition is a real thing and if something is telling you that your child’s development is not quite right, then a referral to a professional would be helpful.