Posts filed under 'Signs of Autism'

Signs of Autism

Each child with autism has different communication skills. Some children may have relatively good verbal skills, with only a slight language delay. Whereas others may be not speak at all or have limited ability or interest in communicating and interacting with others. About 40% of children with autism do not talk at all. Another 25%–30% of children with autism have some words at 12 to 18 months of age and then lose them. Other children may speak, but not until later in childhood.Children with autism who do speak may use language in unusual ways. They may not be able to combine words into meaningful sentences. Some children with autism speak only single words, while others repeat the same phrases over and over. Some children repeat what others say. The repeated words might be said right away or at a later time. Although many children without autism go through a stage where they repeat what they hear, it normally passes by age 3. Some children with autism can speak well but may have a hard time listening to what other people say.

Children with autism may have a hard time using and understanding gestures, body language, or tone of voice. Also, facial expressions, movements, and gestures may not match what they are saying. Their voices might sound flat, robot-like, or high-pitched. Children with autism might stand too close to people they are talking to, or might stick with one topic of conversation for too long. They might talk a lot about something they really like, rather than have a back-and-forth conversation with someone. Some children with relatively good language skills speak like little adults, failing to pick up on the “kid-speak” that is common in their peers.

Add comment June 2nd, 2008

What is “theory of mind?”

You will often hear professionals refer to the term “theory of mind.” Some think of this as being one of the core deficits for individuals with autism. 

Theory of mind is the ability for one person to understand that another person has different thoughts, feelings, and agendas.  For example, I know that I like to eat mayonnaise on crackers.  Even though I love this snack, I also know that not everybody likes this snack.  I understand through theory of mind that just because I like something does not mean that everybody else likes it too!  If I had a party with my friends over, I would make sure that I had more snacks available than just crackers and mayonnaise.

For an individual with autism, they can have a very difficult time with this.  For example, you might have a teenager who loves to talk about computers.  He wants to talk about computers with everybody all the time.  Because of his poor theory of mind, he thinks that because he likes computers that everybody should like computers and want to hear him talk about computers.

As you can imagine because of this challenge with theory of mind, individuals with autism can have difficulty making and maintainting social relationships. Visual supports are available to help teach individuals with autism how to have better theory of mind. 

Add comment June 2nd, 2008

Process of Diagnosing Autism

In order to accurately diagnosis autism, there must be an observation of the child’s communication, behavior and developmental levels. One brief observation cannot show a good picture of the child’s true abilities and behaviors. An important component to the diagnosis of autism is the input of the caregiver and a developmental history of the child. There are no specific medical test for autism. However, because many of the behaviors associated with autism are shared by other disorders, various medical tests may be ordered to rule out or identify other possible causes of the symptoms being exhibited. At first glance, some persons with autism may appear to have mental retardation, a behavior disorder, problems with hearing, or even odd and eccentric behavior. To complicate matters further, these conditions can co-occur with autism.

There are several different types of professional that may be better able to observe and test a child in specific areas. A development pediatrician has experience treating health problems of children with developmental delays or handicaps. A child psychiatrist may be involved in the initial diagnosis. They can prescribe medication and provide help in behavior, emotional adjustment and social relationships. A clinical psychologist can help in understanding the nature and impact of developmental disabilities. They can perform psychological and assessment tests, as well as help with behavior modification and social skills training. An occupational therapist will focuses on practical, self-help skills that will aid in daily living, such as dressing and eating. They will also work on sensory integration, coordination of movement, and fine motor skills. A physical therapist will helps to improve the use of bones, muscles, joints, and nerves to develop muscle strength, coordination and motor skills. A speech therapist  will be involved in the improvement of communication skills, including speech and language. A social worker may provide counseling services or act as case manager helping to arrange services and treatments.

Add comment June 1st, 2008

Early Signs of Autism

Autism is usually diagnosed when the child is 3 to 4 years old, but most parents sense that something is wrong much earlier. On average, parents start to worry about their child’s development by 18 months of age and voice some of their concerns to a doctor or another professional by age 2. Many physicians and professionals are hesitant to diagnose autism at very early ages. If the child is labeled with a problem too early, parents may reduce expectations for the child and restrict the child’s access to typical experiences and opportunities. Thus, professionals may take on a “wait and see” stance that delays diagnosis, and ultimately the commencement of intervention services. Although such concerns are valid, the benefits of early diagnosis vastly outweigh the risks. As many studies have now shown, early intervention is critical for the best outcome in children with autism, and many believe the earlier the better. Only with a diagnosis can parents begin to obtain necessary intervention services for their child. If you have concerns that a child may have autism, there are five big questions you can ask yourself.

1) Does the baby respond to his or her name when called by the caregiver? Typical babies are very responsive to the voices of familiar people, and often respond with smiles and looks within the first few months of life. They also respond to their own name by looking to the person who called them
2) Does the young child engage in “joint attention”?  Typical towards the end of their first year, infants begin to shift their gaze from toys to people, follow other’s points, monitor the gaze of others, point to objects or events to share interest, and show toys to others.
3) Does the child imitate others? Typical infants can imitate body and facial movements. Another way an infant imitates is with common infant games such as pat-a-cake.
4) Does the child respond emotionally to others? Typical infants are aware of the emotions of others, They smile when others smile at them, or if an infants observe another child crying, they may cry themselves, or looked concerned.
5) Does the baby engage in pretend play? Typically pretend play doesn’t begin until the end of the first year. Their first actions may involve pretending to feed themselves, their mother or a doll, brush the doll’s hair, or wipe the doll’s nose.

Add comment May 28th, 2008

Autism Symptoms and Signs

People with Autism Spectrum Disorders may have problems with social, emotional, and communication skills. They might repeat certain behaviors and might not want change in their daily activities.

Many people with Autism Spectrum Disorders also have different ways of learning, paying attention, or reacting to things. Autism Spectrum Disorders begin during early childhood and last throughout a person’s life.

Continue Reading Add comment July 21st, 2007


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