Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Early Signs to help Identify Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder is now recognised as a relatively common neurodevelopmental disorder. It is commonly diagnosed in a child’s early years, although its cause is yet to be determined.

The level at which this brain-based condition may affect a child varies; hence why it is called a “spectrum disorder”. While some children with Autism Spectrum Disorder may function well with very minor limitations in day to day life, other children experience severe limitations in most areas of daily living.

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder can be diagnosed as early as three years of age. They typically exhibit difficulties in a number of key areas. A child that exhibits the following characteristics may very well have an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

■ Communication and Language: Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder usually have disordered expressive and receptive language. They find it difficult to comprehend what others are saying, following simple instructions, and expressing themselves using words. Some may have good language skills, but exhibit behaviours like: categorising things around them, limited desire to communicate with others, and rarely using non-verbal gestures to communicate.

■ Social Interaction and Relationships: Most children with Autism Spectrum Disorder rarely socialise with others. They seldom respond to gestures from others and make eye contact. They are generally uninterested in socialising.

■ Repetitive Behaviour and Routines: At a very young age, children with Autism Spectrum Disorder often demonstrate extreme resistance to changes in daily routine. They often require routine to cope and continuously want everything to follow the same pattern around them. They often engage in repetitive behaviours such as hand flapping, spinning of objects or repeatedly saying the same phrases (echolalia). They often have restricted and obsessive interests.

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