There’s a lot of content out there that describes the potential signs of autism in children. Although plenty of it is helpful, and can help educate parents who are concerned about their children, it can also blur the line between autism and other learning and attention issues.
The truth is, children with autism and other learning and attention issues tend to display similar symptoms. Only a medical professional can make the call to diagnose your child one way or the other. There are however, a few things to keep in mind when considering which is more likely the case for your child.
Children with learning and attention issues can experience sensory-processing issues, tantrums, and challenges with social skills. All of which are also closely correlated to an autism diagnosis.
Both types of children may show signs of:
- A tendency to take things literally/challenges recognizing other people’s feelings and understanding gestures and nonverbal cues.
- Tantrums and behavioral issues. Both can have severe reactions to certain stimuli and what can seem like a short fuse.
- Hyper-sensitivity to certain sensory stimuli and a tendency to want to avoid it. For example, harsh light, noises, touch, etc.
- Clumsiness or general incoordination.
- Issues expressing themselves verbally.
So what makes them different?
Though both can experience social challenges, the reasons behind them are different. Children with autism may experience these challenges because they have trouble understanding social cues and gestures. Children with learning and attention issues face social challenges because a processing issue can cause them to misjudge their surroundings.
Children with autism tend to struggle the most with repetitive routines or behaviors and narrow or obsessive Interests. Repetitive behaviors of self-stimulation, and obsessive interests are not typical of kids with learning and attention issues.
No matter the challenges your child may face, it is always important to look past the labels. If you have suspicions one way or the other, we recommend seeking professional help from a developmental-behavioral pediatrician. The earlier you can know for sure, the earlier you can seek early-intervention, and improve your child’s outcomes and success later in life.
I you want to talk more about your concerns or are seeking care for your child on the spectrum, head over to our contact page to get the conversation started, and as always, keep up with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more autism and ABA related news and resources.