Is My Child Autistic?
Every child is different, and every developmental stage a child goes through can have it’s own unique set of challenges. But what if your child’s behavioural and developmental eccentricities are actually due to autism? Knowing what autism is and how it can affect children is a good first step to dispel fears or validate concerns.
What is autism?
Autism is poorly understood by most people, partly because of high profile cases of autism portrayed in the media (usually depicting a socially awkward genius) and partly because there are many different presentations of the disorder, and no two children with autism will experience it in the same way.
Essentially, Autism Spectrum Disorder is characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech, and other forms of communication. It encompasses a broad range of behavioural and developmental conditions, and is highly varied across individuals.
What are the signs of autism in children?
Some early signs of autism in children may include significantly delayed speech, limited language comprehension and responsiveness, lack of eye contact and other social cues, excessive lining up of toys or objects, and over or under-responsiveness to certain stimuli.
If these signs are not present before the age of three, it is unlikely that your child would qualify for a diagnosis, however, some children are diagnosed after three, if presenting with strong indications of autism in later childhood.
Older children may display difficulty making friends, impaired social or imaginative play, unusual language patterns, and inflexible adherence to specific routines.
In rare cases, autism in children may be associated with siesures, extraordinary abilities in one area (gifted), hyperlexia, and impaired motor skills.
Verywellhealth.com provide a more complete overview of the signs and symptoms of autism in children.
When should I talk to a professional?
Many of the traits associated with autism fall within the normal range of development and behaviour. However, if you are concerned that your child may be autistic, talk to your GP. It’s free for your child, and you may be referred to a paediatrician for a more in-depth examination.
Support for parents of autistic children
If your child is autistic or showing symptoms of autism, visit Autism NZ for information, advise, and support.
Parenting a child with autism can be challenging, but you are not alone. Autism NZ connects families with autistic children, and builds communities that cater to the needs of the unique and special children who are included in their community.
Author: Parent Village aims to provide useful and relevant informtion to parents and caregivers throughout New Zealand.