Mrs. Murthy had the shock of her life when the doctor diagnosed her 4-years-old child to be suffering from Autism. Subconsciously, she knew her son was lagging behind other kids of his age, but, being a mother, she was in a denial phase all this time. Autism is a developmental disability that affects the way a child interacts socially, attains his developmental milestones, and his overall communication & behavior with others. The time of evident signs of autism in the child varies. But on an average, a child starts showing early signs of autism from the age of 12 to 24 months. It may also happen that the child may grow normally till 24 months and suddenly stop gaining further skills or may even start losing skills (regression). Most of the cases are confirmed for Autism by the age of 3 years. Of course, the intensity varies from mild, moderate, to severe and the presentation also varies from child to child.
As a parent, it’s crucial to first identify the signs of Autism in your child, to accept that your child has autism, and then to tackle the problem with a patience and perseverance. If parents can identify the signs of autism early, the treatment and auxiliary measures can be started soon to benefit the child in coping up with the milestones.
Here are certain signs which can help you identify whether your kid suffers from Autism in the first 12 months of his age. Please remember that every child suffering from Autism may present a different set of symptoms, and it’s not necessary that all the signs which are mentioned below have to be present.
- Child Doesn’t Make A Steady Eye Contact:
The first sign which is usually noticed by the parents of an autistic child is that the child doesn’t maintain an eye contact while talking to him. A steady eye contact usually develops by the age of 3 months. Eye contact means the child looks steadily at your face and smiles, by signifying the facial recognition. Autistic children shy away from eye contact.
- Child Doesn’t Babble:
Infants normally start babbling by the age of 5-6 months. In autism, speech milestone is usually delayed, and the child may not babble till the age of 12 months. At times, infants who begin babbling or saying single words at the normal age and then stop suddenly may also have autism.
- Child Doesn’t Give A Social Smile:
A social smile, i.e. giving a smile when spoken to or to the familiar people, develops by the age of 3-4 months. A baby with a developmental delay may not smile at all or cries when spoken to.
- Child Doesn’t Show Interest In Faces:
By the time of 5 months, a normal baby should start identifying her close family members. This is a sign of normal socialization. The baby also starts showing interest in facial features and responds to various expressions. An autistic child won’t be interested in faces as the social quotient is not developed.
- Doesn’t Respond To His/Her Name:
Babies start responding to their name by the age of 7 months. A normal baby will turn his head when he hears his name. This milestone gets delayed in autism despite normal hearing, as the child can not relate effectively with his/her name.
- Shows Repetitive Gestures/Movements:
As per the researchers, babies with autism tend to do repetitive body movements, such as flapping hands, rocking, etc., as it soothes them.
- Displays Excessive Sensitivity Towards The Noise & Light:
An autistic child tends to be excessively sensitive to the sudden sharp noises around, for instance, the whistle of the cooker, door banging, loud music, someone yelling, etc., and tries to shut his ears tight or may cry.
- Altered Sensitivity To Touch And Pain:
An infant with autism may overreact to certain pain stimuli or may not react at all to others. The child may not like to be touched, cuddled, or carried. He is happy playing on his own.
- Disturbed Sleep Pattern:
Approximately 40% to 80% of the infants with autism have troubles in having a sound sleep. The child may get up frequently at night, wake up early, or have an erratic sleep pattern.
Like I said, not all the above-mentioned signs may be seen in one child. Autism presents itself differently in different children so it is wise that its diagnosis is confirmed by an expert. Knowing that your child has autism can be overwhelming as a parent, but please understand that diagnosis is the first step towards helping your child overcome the developmental hurdles ahead. Your child needs extra love, care, attention, and support. Homeopathy, being a holistic therapeutic tool, evaluates your child on several factors, such as behavior, social skills, communication, etc. and thereby gives positive results when treated strategically along with other auxiliary measures like occupational and speech therapy. I hope you find this blog helpful. Happy parenting.
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-Written by Dr. Amrita Utekar, Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah