Autism spectrum disorder is a progressive condition that affects a child’s communication and interaction skills at a young age. Several of its known signs appear in the first 12 to 18 months of age, affecting skills required to develop a keen sense of interest. Over time, autism impacts the child’s communication, behavior, and daily routine. Parents should consult a health professional if they notice the following early signs of autism in their children.
One of the early signs of autism is trouble with speech. A child with autism may develop unusual speech patterns, respond in a monotonous voice, or even stop responding to conversation. Repetition of words or phrases is also indicative of such speech impairment.
Changes in behavior
Developing an unusual temper, throwing tantrums, and even being unable to adapt to the smallest of changes in daily routine are early signs of autism in children. Some kids dealing with autism may even resort to self-harm by banging their heads, arms, or legs on surfaces to indicate distress.
Autism also affects cognitive functioning, which controls motor skills. Those affected might start going around in circles, rock back and forth rapidly, or flap their hands and feet. An increased response to sensory triggers like new smells, sounds, or sights is also a symptom of the disorder.
One of the glaring early signs of autism in young children is slow responses to emotional cues. The child might resist cuddling, avoid eye contact, make expressions that don’t match their reaction, and even fail to respond to their name being called out. A general disinterest in their surroundings is also a sign of the disorder.
Developing peculiar interests
In the early stages of autism, a child may exhibit a peculiar interest in objects and sensory cues. For example, an interest in a toy or a unique pattern can turn into an obsession. If the child is separated from the object or activity briefly, they may throw tantrums.
Not developing an emotional connection
Between the ages of 12 to 18 months, children develop an interest in pretend games and start to mingle with other kids their age. If the child prefers to be left alone and avoids interaction, it could indicate social difficulties, one of the noticeable symptoms of autism.
Among children, major depressive disorder may also manifest as physical signs of autism, like fatigue, restlessness, and stomach aches. The condition may also amplify certain traits of autism spectrum disorder, such as aggression and irritability.