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Signs of Autism in Children

Although diagnosis should be left to experienced professionals, it is a good idea for any parent or caregiver to be aware of the signs of autism. Although treatment can be helpful at all stages of life, early detection of autism as well as treatment starting in early childhood (such as ABA therapy) can help prepare families for the challenges ahead while significantly improving outcomes.

While autism affects each child differently, the earliest signs of autism in an infant or very young child will often be delays reaching basic developmental milestones, such as speech or nonverbal communication like pointing, gesturing or facial expressions. A young child with autism may not respond the sound of their name, have limited eye contact, and may not attempt to interact or engage in play with the parent or caregiver.

As an infant with autism enters into early childhood, they may show difficulty making friends or interacting with other children. Potty training may present significant challenges. Speech development may be behind their neurotypical peers. Repetitive behaviors may emerge, and symptoms consistent with attention deficit order (ADHD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may reveal themselves, as well as emotional inflexibility, sensory processing issues or other challenges.

That said, this is not an exhaustive list of every symptom or behavior characteristic of autism spectrum disorder. Every child with autism develops differently and neither diagnosis nor treatment is a DIY job. Similarly, neurotypical children develop at different rates, with different strengths and challenges. Be aware of the signs, but consult with a qualified medical practitioner or psychologist specializing in autism.

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