Autism communicative development of children of younger preschool age disorders can often be reliably detected by the age of 3 years, and in some cases as early as 18 months. 2 Studies suggest that many kids eventually may be accurately identified by the age of 1 year or even younger. The appearance of any of the warning signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders is reason to have a youngster evaluated by a professional specializing in these disorders. The autism spectrum disorders range from a severe form, called autistic disorder, to a milder form, high-functioning autism or Aspergers.
The autism spectrum disorders are more common in the pediatric population than are some better known disorders such as diabetes, spinal bifida, or Down syndrome. 2 A recent study of a U. 4 of every 1,000 kids 3-10 years old had autism. 3 The earlier the disorder is diagnosed, the sooner the youngster can be helped through treatment interventions. Each of these symptoms runs the gamut from mild to severe.
They will present in each individual youngster differently. For instance, a youngster may have little trouble learning to read but exhibit extremely poor social interaction. Each youngster will display communication, social, and behavioral patterns that are individual but fit into the overall diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders. Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders do not follow the typical patterns of child development. In some kids, hints of future problems may be apparent from birth. In most cases, the problems in communication and social skills become more noticeable as the youngster lags further behind other kids the same age.
Some other kids start off well enough. From the start, typically developing infants are social beings. Early in life, they gaze at others, turn toward voices, grasp a finger, and even smile. In contrast, most kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders seem to have tremendous difficulty learning to engage in the give-and-take of everyday human interaction. Even in the first few months of life, many do not interact – and they avoid eye contact. Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders also are slower in learning to interpret what others are thinking and feeling. Subtle social cues—whether a smile, a wink, or a grimace—may have little meaning.
Although not universal, it is common for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders also to have difficulty regulating their emotions. The child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder might also be disruptive and physically aggressive at times, making social relationships still more difficult. Some kids diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders remain mute throughout their lives. Some infants who later show signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders coo and babble during the first few months of life, but they soon stop.
Others may be delayed, developing language as late as age 5 to 9. Some kids may learn to use communication systems such as pictures or sign language. Those who do speak often use language in unusual ways. They seem unable to combine words into meaningful sentences. Some speak only single words, while others repeat the same phrase over and over. Some kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders parrot what they hear, a condition called echolalia. Although many kids with no Autism Spectrum Disorders go through a stage where they repeat what they hear, it normally passes by the time they are 3.
Some kids that are only mildly affected may exhibit slight delays in language, or even seem to have precocious language and unusually large vocabularies, but have great difficulty in sustaining a conversation. While it can be hard to understand what kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders are saying, their body language is also difficult to understand. Facial expressions, movements, and gestures rarely match what they are saying. Also, their tone of voice fails to reflect their feelings. A high-pitched, sing-song, or flat, robot-like voice is common. Without meaningful gestures or the language to ask for things, children with Autism Spectrum Disorders are at a loss to let others know what they need. As a result, they may simply scream or grab what they want.