Early signs of autism and expert tips to deal with it
Autism, a developmental disorder, cannot be detected with a medical test. But as a parent, you spend every second with you child and thus, can spot the early signs of autism before anyone. Our expert Ms. Surabhi Verma, director, Sparsh for Children, a multidisciplinary therapy center for intellectually weak children, Delhi, tells you about some early markers or symptoms that can be helpful in the diagnosis of autism.
By 6 months: No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions.
By 9 months: No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions. Might laugh or giggle on their own (without any reason).
By 12 months: They may not respond if someone calls them by name. No babbling or ‘baby talk’. No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving. For example: While shopping, instead of asking or pointing what they want, they put the object on your hands.
By 16 months: No spoken words. They can recite poems, songs and other things, but can’t tell about basic needs like hunger, toilet, etc. Prefer to stay alone and may not like cuddling (as normal kids). They might talk with you, but not look at you while talking.
By 24 months: No meaningful two-word phrases that don’t involve imitating or repeating. They are extremely good in a specific activity like verbal skills or any art/game. Also, these kids have a close attachment to a particular object.
As a parent, you should monitor your child’s social communication development and watch his/her behavior as the use of hand gestures and eye contact with people. Although autism has no cure, it can be treated with early discovery and intervention. So be aware of any developmental problems that your child is going through and discuss it with your pediatrician. Here are 6 tips for parents to deal with autistic children.
Dealing with an autistic child — what you should do?
Educate yourself – Your child is special and hence, it is important to know what’s normal and what’s not. Children develop at different rates, so monitoring their development is the key. Checking whether your kid is achieving various important milestones — physical, emotional, social, linguistic or behavioral will help you to understand your child’s development.
Love and support your child – The treatment in combination with love and support of the family, helps the child to learn, grow and thrive. Children with autism are LESS likely to misbehave intentionally than typical children. They can be less active socially because their brains couldn’t connect some of their experiences. Read about 5 therapies that can improve an autistic child’s life
Questioning might be helpful – Every autistic kid perceives things differently. Hence, understanding how the child is different will help you. Is your child extra sensitive to sound and light? Does he/she need frequent sensory input? If yes, don’t assume your child will slowly get on track. Instead start with the interventions and be clear about the short term and long term goals that will help in deciding an appropriate treatment plan for your child.