Autism or Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is just that, a spectrum. There is not a set number of symptoms to define autism, nor is there a strict level of severity to the disorder. However, there is a standard of symptoms and only a professional who has been properly trained can perform a diagnosis. Early signs of autism occur as soon as 12 – 24 months. In Virginia, the average age of diagnosis is six. But, a reliable diagnosis can be performed as early as age two.
Six. That’s the average age of diagnosis for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the Commonwealth of Virginia. And that’s a shame, because a reliable diagnosis can be made as early as age two. And when it comes to diagnosing ASD, the sooner, the better.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability that appears in the first few years of a child’s life. While people with ASD don’t look different, they do communicate, interact, behave and learn in ways that are very different from most people.
The type and severity of symptoms people experience varies widely with ASD. This is because ASD is a spectrum disorder. That means some people with ASD are intellectually gifted while others may need varying amounts of support. There are some individuals with ASD who need constant supervision while others can and/or do live independently.
As a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder develops, caregivers may notice some signs the child is not developing “neurotypically“. Depending upon the type or severity of ASD, these Early signs of autism may go un-noticed. Why is it important to know your child has autism as early as possible? “Research has shown that early intervention can improve a child’s overall development. Children who receive autism-appropriate education and support at key developmental stages are more likely to gain essential social skills and react better in society” https://myasdf.org
Children aged 12-24 months who exhibit early signs of autism MIGHT do the following:
- Babble or talk with an unusual tone in their voice
- Display unusual sensory sensitivities such as being over-responsive or under-responsiveness to a wide range of stimuli or activities
- Carry around objects for extended periods of time
- Display unusual or repetitive body or hand movements
- Have a general disinterest or delay in pretend play
- Seem to have low enthusiasm to explore new things or appear underactive
- Appear to be overly fussy or be difficult to soothe
- Rarely make eye contact or not make good eye contact
- Have a delay in saying first words, after 12-14 months
- Point at things
- Babble or talk back and forth with another person
- Try to gain the attention of others
- Smile in response to your smile
- Show objects to others
- Point to request
- Respond to their name
- Look when you try to direct their attention
- Enjoy cuddling
- Use common gestures
- Show interest in other children
- Use a wide range of facial expressions