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Telltale Symptoms of Autism

Updated on October 23, 2009

Autistic Behaviors

Autism usually appears during the first three years of a child's life, and continues without remission. Symptoms begin at about 6 months of age, and become established by 2 or 3 years of age. Autism continues into adulthood, although, often in a more muted form. The disease is distinguished by characteristic symptoms; impairments in social interaction, communication, restricted interests, and repetitive behavior.

Autism affects the brain, which makes conversing with others, relationship development, and reaction to environmental surroundings difficult. Although, autistic children are not physically disabled, and 'look' like anybody else, they may be mentally disabled, mute or display problems in learning language. Sometimes they may seem close out the world around them, and appear to respond only to repetitive behavior. Children with autism tend to have similar social, communication, motor and sensory problems, which in turn, affect their behavior.

Autism might be indicated by some of the following traits:

  • They might not babble or coo.

  • Many will not point, grasp or wave by 12 months of age.

  • Do not say single or two-word phrases within 16-24 months.

  • Do not show language or social skills at any age.

  • Resist change, and prefer same routines.

  • Repeat words in place of responsive communication.

  • Have difficulty to express their needs.

  • May laugh or cry for no apparent reason.

  • Have temper tantrums.

  • May not like to be cuddled.

  • Avoid eye contact.

  • Display high or low sensitivity to pain.

  • Can be extremely over active or under active.

  • Like to spin objects.

  • Ignore or don't respond to verbal instructions.

  • Do not appear to fear dangerous situations.

Contrary to common beliefs, autistic children do not prefer being alone, but making and maintaining friendships are often difficult. For autistic children, the quality of friendships, not the number of friends, predicts how lonely they may feel.

Children with autism go through the same challenges and stages as other children, it just takes them longer to get through them. Everyday life events can be problematic, and they will need more help to learn how to deal with upsetting events. Teaching them to take a few deep breaths can help them relax when they begin to get upset.

It's important to encourage your child, and be sensitive to possible meltdowns in order to head them off before they begin. Of course, you cannot protect them from every frustrating moment, and it will be important for them to get through their frustration and learn from the experience.

Early intervention is important. Once the diagnosis has been made, parents and doctors should discuss what is best for the child. Special education classes for autistic children are available. These behaviorally-based programs, are structured to the child's developmental levels.

Many behavioral treatment programs include: specific behavioral tasks, praise and rewards, increased complexity, and guidance of when and when not to display learned behaviors.

Parents should also be educated in behavioral techniques and are urged to participate in classes. The more specialized behavior therapy the child received, the more likely the condition will improve. The outlook for autistic children depends on his or her intelligence and language abilities.


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