The Early Signs of Autism & How to Deal with Them

The Early Signs of Autism & How to Deal with Them

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Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a general term for a group of disorders that relate to brain development.

Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a general term for a group of disorders that relate to brain development. These disorders are characterised by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviours. In some cases, these can be barely noticeable, is some they can be severe.

Many people who work within a care or education setting, or perhaps carers of children that have been diagnosed with autism, choose to compete for various autism awareness courses. These courses allow for valuable insight into what can exacerbate an autistic child or adult’s reaction to certain situations.

Recognising and understanding the early signs of autism is key in not only diagnosis, but also in treatment which will reduce the disorder’s effect. By controlling these effects, an autistic child or adult can learn and thrive.

When can autism be detected?

Autism is a spectrum of disorders that are closely related and often share similar, if not the same symptoms. Autism spectrum disorders appear in infancy and early childhood. In many cases, there is a delay in basic areas of development such as talking, plating and the ability to interact with others.

The symptoms of autism vary, as do its effects. Some children suffer mild impairments, but others have far bigger obstacles to overcome. However, all autistic children and adults will share problems in these three areas:

  • Not being able to communicate verbally and non-verbally
  • Being able to relate to others and the world around them
  • Inflexible behaviour and thinking patterns

These are all early signs of autism that health professionals working with young and small children will look for. Unfortunately, what can be confusing for parents and teachers is that the doctors, experts and so on all have different opinions as to how autism should be treated.

However, there is one fact that is crystal clear and universally agreed on: early and intensive intervention helps. For those children that show early signs of autism, this makes all the difference.

Spotting the early signs of autism falls to the parents

Parents are in the best position to detect early signs of ASD but, unless they are aware of some of the behaviours and quirks, it can be difficult to recognise. Also, some parents find it tough getting the help, diagnosis and support they need. There are still cases where some children are labelled as ‘naughty’ or their behaviour is as a result of inadequate parenting. This attitude is unhelpful and forms a significant barrier to parents, and children, receiving the help that they need.
This is what to look and how to look for it (the following list is not the basis of a diagnosis. However, if you feel that your child behaves in this way, you should seek further help and advice):

  • Development – autism affects the rate and ability of growth in critical areas such as social, emotional and cognitive milestones. Delay in reaching certain targets by a certain age is not an automatic indication of autism; it could be a pointer.
  • Take action – every child develops in different ways and at different times thus, just because your child walks or talks at a later time than others should not be too much of a cause for concern. There is a large range of ‘normal’ development but, if your feel or suspect your child is not reaching the right milestone at the expected time, it is important that you seek help. Share your concerns with your health visitor or GP.
  • ‘Wait and see’ is not good enough – many concerned parents are told not to worry or wait and see. This is not the right approach and means that you are losing valuable time at an age where a child is thirsty for development. The essence of this argument is simple – whether the developmental delay is as a result of autism or another factor, children will not ‘grow out of it’.
  • Trust your instincts – parents have an innate ability to be able to spot problems and issues with their children. Problems can be underestimated by professionals and you may find that you will need to be persistent. Educational and clinical psychologists will often be part of the team that confirm the diagnosis of autism.

Autism awareness – information is key

Understanding autism and how is can show itself is important but underpinning is knowledge. With autism awareness courses and training, it is possible to understand the finer issues that are involved in living with someone with autism, as well as managing behaviour and so on.

Click here if you want to know more about the autism courses we offer here at NCC Home Learning.

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
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