When a young child is developing physically and emotionally, it can be tempting for parents to overlook behavioral changes. Although many children develop harmless quirks in early years, some behaviors may be red flags indicating the child has an autism spectrum disorder. If your son or daughter displays autism symptoms, it’s important to take action as soon as possible.
What are Early Signs to Watch For?
ASD symptoms vary, but there are certain signals you shouldn’t ignore. One of the most common issues parents notice first is the child’s lack of interest in people, toys or the environment. By the time a baby is 6 months, he or she should make eye contact and react to personal interaction. If your baby isn’t cooing, smiling and repeating some sounds by this age, it may be cause for concern.
By the 1-year mark, your child should be attempting one-syllable words and communicating needs, such as pointing to a toy or reaching for a parent. When a child appears unaware of other people, has unusual sensitivities to touch, sound, light or smell, compulsively moves his or her body, is obsessed with an object, or even seems deaf, autism may be to blame.
When Should you Take Action?
If you suspect your child hasn’t reached the appropriate emotional, cognitive and social milestones, don’t wait to seek help. Early, focused intervention can drastically improve delayed skills. A 2-year old may be at risk if he or she cannot follow basic instructions, doesn’t socialize or speak, cannot string a couple words together, or doesn’t recognize the names of simple objects.
Each child develops at a different pace, so don’t panic if your little one is simply a little late to the party. The range of normal behavior is fairly wide, but some signs shouldn’t be completely disregarded. Seeking the advice of a developmental specialist just increases the chance of early detection. Like other areas of parenting, you’ll do the best for your child when you trust your own instincts.
By recognizing developmental problems as early as possible, you can get the necessary treatment for your child. If your baby or young toddler displays any autism symptoms, speak with a specialist. A targeted, customized treatment plan can greatly reduce the effects of this disorder, and early intervention can give your child the best chance at a happy, healthy life.