Detecting autism signs early

By on January 2, 2013

Autism affects information processing and prevents individuals from proper understanding of what they perceive in their surroundings.   Symptoms range from mild to severe impairments:  reciprocal social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communications, rigid or repetitive patterns of behaviour.   Early intervention is proven to bring the most significant progress. Below is a list of signs to watch out for:1. Crying tantrums, extreme distress for no apparent reason
2. Inappropriate laughing or giggling
3. Apparent insensitivity to pain
4. No real fear of dangers
5. Insistence on sameness
6. May prefer to be alone
7. May avoid eye contact
8. May not want cuddling
9. Difficulty in expressing needs.  May use gestures
10. Inappropriate attachments to objects
11. Sustained unusual or repetitive play.  Uneven physical or verbal skills
12. Spins objects or self
13. Not responsive to normal teaching methods
14. Inappropriate response or no response to sound
15. Difficulty in interacting with others
16. Echoes words or phrases

Learning difficulty or disability?
In a child’s first learning experience at school, there are new words to study,  in progressive stages to. If your child is not advancing in the learning stages normally, he might be having some learning difficulty or it could be signs of a disability.  These are two different issues.  Struggling children can fall way behind in scores so identifying a potential learning disability early in a child’s developing years can be for his own good.

1. Is he able to understand grade level texts as well as write simple coherent sentences?
At elementary level, a child should be able to read on his own and write about what he reads and spell accurately.  If the pace in which he is acquiring these basic skills is slow, he needs guidance.  If in coming across multi-syllable words, he stumbles, you need to understand if this is a learning disability.

2. Does he have trouble pronouncing long and new words correctly?
Does he hesitate often when he speaks or is asked to respond to a question, uses a lot of “hmms”, pauses and struggles to find the words to say?

3. Does he rely on memorizing words instead of learning?
If he memorizes a story he read in a book instead of learning it, he will have a difficulty in summarizing it and predicting what will happen next.  To get a clue on how he’s doing, give him a test.

4. Is his handwriting wobbly but types fast on the keyboard?
If his hand strokes tend to move unsteadily from left to right, it could be that your child is not hearing the words correctly and uncertain what to write.

5. Does your child do well in some subjects but struggling in others?
Being good in some shows he has the brain alertness and maturity to read but a learning disability might be preventing him from recognizing word sounds and associating them to letters.

Advice to parent:  Take down notes about your personal observation and request to see your child’s teacher or guidance counselor to confirm if there is a learning difficulty or disability.  Together you can decide whether some issues need evaluation by a medical practitioner or not.  In some cases, all it takes might be just  a change in teaching style or a move to a smaller class.  One-on-one tutoring might also help.

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