Much research had been conducted to try to aid the earlier identification of ASD in young children. Some clear signs have now been identified that help parents to recognize possible developmental challenges in their own children. Consider your child in terms of the following behaviors:
• Does your child consistently turn his head when you call his/her name?
• Does your child make direct eye contact with you as much as other children?
• Does your child look at toys you show him/her?
• When you play with your child, does s/he smile at you often?
• Does your child use gestures to communicate with you (e.g. pointing, waving, showing objects and reaching)? If so, does s/he use eye contact at the same time as using a gesture?
• Does your child exchange sounds (or words) with you back and forth?
Many typically developing children will be using most of these social behaviors by about age 12 months. However, it is very important to be aware that there is a very wide variety in the way children develop in the first three years of life. Many children who seem delayed at 12 or 18 months will catch up with their peers by 36 months and will continue to develop typically. Some children who show significant delays in all of the above behaviors may receive a diagnosis of ASD later in life - if the developmental path remains unchanged.
Other signs that may indicate a developmental challenge are:
• An unusual insistence on routine
• A preference for being alone or aloofness
• A resistance to being held or touched
• Spinning objects or unusual sensory interests in objects (e.g. peering at objects, sniffing or licking non-food items, watching objects fall)
• Engaging in repetitious motor movements (e.g. running in circles, jumping more than usual)
• Repeating words or phrases
• Laughing, crying or showing distress for no apparent reason
• No response to verbal instructions despite normal hearing test
Every child is unique and follows his/her own developmental pathway. It is important for parents to be aware of possible signs of ASD so that you can begin to change the developmental pathway, to return to typical, as soon as possible. If you are concerned about your child’s development seek help (see Diagnosis/Screening) right away; there is no risk in learning how to facilitate a child’s social development. Developmental pathways are dynamic, that is, they change in response to the social (and physical) environment - you can change the developmental pathway your child is currently following (see Autism Treatments)
What to do if you see these signs
If you see some of these signs in your child, it is important to know that in young children, there is a very wide range of what is considered normal development. Your child many not have Autism. If you are concerned, however, take your child to your doctor and describe to the doctor the behaviors you are seeing. Tell the doctor in detail the kinds of things you have seen in your child that are concerning you.
When a child is very young (under 3 years of age), many parents who raise concerns are often told things like “he’ll grow out of it” or “you’re just being over-protective”, which is sometimes is the case. However, parents know their children the best and if you are seeing things that lead you to suspect Autism, be persistent with your doctor until your child is evaluated by someone who could diagnose or rule-out Autism. This process can takes months and in some places years so DO NOT WAIT for a confirmed diagnosis to begin looking at treatments. Even if your child does not receive a diagnosis of Autism, if you are concerned about his / her development, then clearly your child has some challenges and could certainly benefit from some extra input.
Ask your doctor and local specialists what treatments are available in your area and begin doing your own research. Use the Internet to understand more about the different treatment options available and explore those that make sense to you. The Son-Rise Program® is something you can begin using immediately (see Getting Started) to see the effects for your child and decide if you want to go further. It is completely non-invasive, it’s fun and there is no risk to your child.