Autism or ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) is a learning disorders which can be detect as early as 7 months to 2 years old. You will notice some delays of developments such as physical contact, sensory issues, sleep disorder and interacting problems. Symptoms of autism can be varying from mild to complications. As the child grows, signs and symptoms will become more obvious hence the older the child gets the more obstacles to overcome.
There are 3 main problems we need to be aware of as a parent, we must understand which Spectrum our child falls into.
- Physically not flexible, delay in fine and motor skills.
- Cannot communicate verbally
- No interaction with people
- Cannot relate to surroundings.
Doctors or researchers have many opinions about the cause of autism and treatments. In conclusion, the earlier the child is detected, the earlier interventions can make a difference.
Brain development – Cerebral Cortex and the cerebellum are parts of the brain that affects our movements, mood swings and concentration. If the level of dopamine and serotonin are not balance, problems with movements and concentration will occur. These will affect the early brain development of the child.
Genetically related – Some cases shown the possibility of having the second child with autism in the family when the first child is diagnosed with autism. However the chances can be 1:20.
Pregnancy factors – If the child father is already at the age of 50s above or if the child was born premature,the risk is higher than normal pregnancy.
Exposure to toxic – Having medications,sex hormones, chemicals and pesticides can be link to trigger problems with our brain as well as causing autism. When in contact with heavy metals, mercury and air pollution can also lead to the cause.
There are stages of development milestones for every child from the 7th months till the age of 5 yrs old. As all child develops differently, there are some specific milestones that each child needs to achieve by a specific age. However, if after the specific age, your child has not developed the require milestones, do not hesitate to seek for doctors’opinions and further assessments.
It can be difficult to confirm autism when your child is as young as 12 months old. These symptoms usually can be detected from 18th months onward. But look out for the following signs, early intervention can increase the possibility of reversing the symptoms. When your baby is different than the others, such as not crying a lot, not reaching out to be carry, not smiling, no eye contact during feeding time or crying too much and not sleeping in long hours.
When your baby doesn’t ……………
- Show interest or excitement when people play with him.
- Not responding to voices, name and smiles
- Follow any body gestures or facial movements
- Point or wave bye-bye
- Look at people when they talk
- Reach out for hugs or to be carry
- Show discomfort when being hurt.
First 2 years symptoms : Some symptoms can change or become obvious as the child gets older. Some can be detected during infancy, but some can only be noticed after the age of 2 years old. Look out for the following signs
- Not pointing or hold up any objects to show you.
- Will not request for things, toys, to be carry or look for toys when it dropped
- Not able to respond to own names
- Not calling ‘mummy’ or ‘daddy’
- cannot follow simple instruction. (exp, give me the ball…)
- repeat after you blindly.
- Will not respond with body gestures
- Doesn’t copy people’s actions
- Will not smile back in respond
- Will not make eye contact when needed something
- Do not play with dolls or initiate pretend play
- Will not join other children in play
- Play alone or play with a specific toy only
- Repeated actions or playing with only one action (exp, turning the car wheels but not pushing it on the floor or press only certain button on a toy repeatedly)
- Only interested with certain tv shows or object
- Will line any things in a row.
- Follow certain daily routine (exp,drink milk and sleep, shower and eat)
- Gets angry and upset when not following the usual routine.
Will repeat certain body movements everyday. (exp body rocking, flapping of hands, tip-toeing, bending of arms and hands)
- Get sensitive with certain sound or noise (exp, sound of vacuum cleaner, doorbell or loud noise)
- Will only eat certain food or texture.
- Rubbing the face or mouth
- Holding to specific object
- Flicking the fingers near the eyes
You must keep check of your child development milestones after every assessment visit, if you notice symptoms of delay, seek help from your child’s pediatrician. Most importantly, you need to educate yourself and prepare for early interventions. You should not have the ‘wait and see’ mindset or else the chances for improvements will be delay. Trust your instincts and get second opinions or arrange for thorough evaluation for autism when you feel your child are not showing any progress in the developments.
Arrange an appointment with a professional – with the help of trained professional like a psychologist, psychiatrist or pediatrician, you can learn about the interventions suitable for your child and begin treatment sooner the better.
Learn about other services – You may look up for other help through other parents with autistic child,support parents’ group, read more information about ASD and visit website of concerns for deeper understanding.
Get your child diagnosis – let your child go through proper assessment tests, get a check list of progress and understand the level of spectrum he can be in.
Autism cannot be cure but with the help of early interventions, we can improve our child’s development and create better foundation skills as he grows. All therapies and treatments need support from the parents and school. You and your child need time to adjust to many changes.Family and peers also play a part in creating a more positive setting for the child to improve his social and communication skills.
Having speech delay or being nonverbal seems impossible to communicate and interact among people. However, your autistic child might want to communicate with you but in a different way. Through speech therapy, we can learn how to communicate using picture cards, symbols tags, computers or portable electronic devices. Your child will learn to use them with consistent practicing in school as well as at home.
Your child will be expose to physical activities that can develop his sensory skills, enhance his self-control and learn the appropriate ways to move around.Some may learn to calm down and build on confident through structure circuits and routines. During each sessions the child will gets to follow instructions and move in specific directions to do certain tasks. Yoga balls, trampolines,sponge blocks, ball pit or tire swings are use to help your child.
Gross motor skills that include muscles and body movements. Your child will crawl, jump, climbing up and downstairs, going through tunnels, walking on balancing beams and rolling on different texture mats. Fine motor skills will include delicate hands movements such as zipping up jacket, buttoning,writing, cutting, pasting and threading. These skills require hand-eye coordination and need lots of practice to achieve.
Introduce the use of ABA and Floor Time to guide your child in learning about the before and after effect of certain behaviors. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) can help your child to develop new skills by manipulating the environment and using structure approach to teach the child. Floor Time is the use of play-based therapy that involves child directed play.
You may also expose your child to other recreations or activities such as swimming, music, art, horse-riding or learning musical instruments. If your child enjoys participating and comfortable during the sessions, he might develop a skill as well as making progress in social interacting.