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About Autism in children – Part 2

Autism problems happens when the brain develops differently and has trouble with an important job.
• Every day, our brains interpret (understand) the things we see, smell, hear, taste, touch, and experience.
• When the brain has trouble interpreting these things, it can make it hard to talk, listen, understand, play, and learn.
• A kid’s symptoms could be very mild, severe, or somewhere in the middle.

Autism Symptoms and Signs

– Impaired reciprocal social interaction.
• Poor use of body language.
• Non-verbal communication, such as eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures.
• Lack of awareness of feelings of others and the expression of emotions like pleasure (laughing) or distress (crying), for reasons not apparent to others.
• Remaining aloof and preferring to be alone.
• Difficulty interacting with other people and failure to make peer friendships.
• May not want to cuddle or be cuddled.
• Lack of or abnormal social play.
• Unresponsive to verbal cues.

– Impaired communication
• Delay in, or the total lack of, the development of spoken language or speech.
• If speech is developed, it is abnormal in content and quality.
• Difficulty expressing needs and wants, verbally and/or nonverbally.
• Repeating words or phrases back when spoken to (known as echolalia).
• Inability to initiate or sustain conversation.
• Absent or poorly developed imaginary play.

– Restricted repertoire of interests, behaviors, and activities
• Insisting on following routines and sameness, resisting change.
• Ritualistic or compulsive behaviors.
• Sustained odd play.
• Repetitive body movements (hand flapping, rocking) and/or abnormal posture (toe walking).
• Preoccupation with parts of objects or a fascination with repetitive movement (spinning wheels, turning on and off lights).
• Narrow, restricted interests (dates/calendars, numbers, weather, movie credits).

– Behavioral symptoms include:
• Aggressive or self-injurious behavior.
• Noticeable extreme underactivity or over-activity.
• Throwing tantrums.
• Short attention span.
• Abnormal responses to sensory stimuli.
• Abnormalities in eating or sleeping.
• Unresponsive to normal teaching methods.
• Playing in odd or unusual ways.
• Having inappropriate attachment to objects.
• Having no apparent fear of dangerous situations.

– Mood and affect
• Mood and affect vary considerably.
• This may include being unaware of the feelings of others, withdrawn, or emotionally labile.
• Some people with autism become outwardly anxious.
• They may become depressed in response to the realization of their problems.
• In some children with autism who express affection, the affection may be indiscriminate.

There are a number of associated features and behaviors that are seen in some people with autism.
1. Cognitive function
• Autism occurs at all intelligence levels.
• Although about 75% of autistic individuals have an intelligence quotient (IQ) below average.
• The performance IQ is generally higher than the verbal IQ.
2. Neurologic function
• Seizures may develop in 25% to 35% of children with autism and can be resistant to treatment.
• The onset of seizures peaks in early childhood and again in adolescence.
• There is an increased risk of seizures in children with autism who have mental retardation or a family history of autism.
• Uneven gross and/or fine motor skills.

When to Seek Medical Care?

Some examples of behaviors that warrant seeking medical care include:
• seems distant or oblivious to surroundings;
• doesn’t play or interact well with others;
• is uncommunicative;
• has problems speaking or understanding the speech of others;
• has uncontrollable temper tantrums;
• insists on sameness and routine;
• engages in repetitive or compulsive actions.

Experts recommend that babies or children be evaluated for autism who has not met the following developmental milestones:
• Not babbled or cooed by age 1 year.
• Not gestured, pointed, or waved as an infant, by age 1 year.
• Not spoken a single word by age 16 months.
• Not spoken a 2-word phrase by age 2 years.
• Experiences any loss of language or social skills at any age.

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew Autism By Hand 1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and Raising Children with Autism

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