Signs of Autism ?

Updated on December 23, 2008
N.H. asks from San Diego, CA
21 answers

Hi moms i was wondering if anyone knew some signs of autism... i know there is a wide verity and every child is different but i want to make sure i know if i see it. any moms have stories about when the first noticed any signs? and the age their child was? thanks so much moms i don't know what i would do without this sight!!!

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P.S.

answers from San Diego on

Hello N.:
Please go to San Diego Regional Center if you need any help.
They can help with initial evaluation.

www.sdrc.org

:) I'm a mom of a 2yr old and we are getting help from them to see if my daughter is on the spectrum.

Best wishes, P.

1 mom found this helpful
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T.T.

answers from Los Angeles on

My son (now three) lost all of his nouns from his vocabulary, which was already limited, at 15 months and we started to notice limited eye contact. Not to long after that, we noticed he would focus on individual functions of items rather than the whole thing. He has always been more active than most. He has since been diagnosed with mild autism, but in most standard situations doesn't really stand out.

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K.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi N.,
You've gotten a lot of good responses with great advice. I just wanted to re-emphasize some points that have been mentioned because they are so important. Always go with your instinct even if it is different from a doctor's view. You know your child better than anyone. Contact your local regional center for advice and to look into having your son tested and you will then know what direction to go in. It's possible he is not on the spectrum, however if he is, the earlier he gets treatment, the better. As I'm sure you know, there's no cure but there is treatment (speech therapy, etc) that makes a world of difference. The older a child is before treatment the harder it becomes to get on the path of a "normal" life for him. My brother was not properly diagnosed until he was in his 20s. He has High Functioning Autism (Aspergers). He has come so far and is literally a different person, but it breaks my heart that he had to struggle so many years and endure such a difficult childhood and teenage years due to the misdiagnosing. And even though he is now in treatment, it's still a roller coaster because it took so long to get started. Nowadays society is so much more aware of this disorder that children in your son's generation have a better chance. We still have a long way to go. You are a great mom and the fact that you are looking into this is the best thing you can do for your son. Some parents (understandably) go into denial and unfortunately it makes it much worse. Not all children meet their milestones at the same time so it's possible there's nothing wrong, but better to look into it for peace of mind. Best of luck to you and your family. Keep us posted. K. p.s. A good site about Asperger's is http://www.tonyattwood.com.au/index.html However there is a wide spectrum of the Autism disorder (not understood until recent years).

1 mom found this helpful
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S.G.

answers from Los Angeles on

I don't know a lot, but I have heard that if the child fails to communicated (nonverbally) or if the child won't make eye contact with you, those are warning signs. Good luck. Maybe this page will help you: http://www.autismweb.com/signs.htm God Bless!

1 mom found this helpful
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C.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

I have a 3 1/2 grandson with autism. He was diagnosed with it before he turned 3. Some of his symptoms were hardly interacting with us, babbling to himself,not talking,tantrums when he would get frustrated because we could not understand him,spacey look in his eyes. when he would watch tv he would repeat what was said. he has been in school for about a year now and has made so much progress he is amazing. He goes to a preschool that specializes in autism. Hope this helps. God Bless!

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S.C.

answers from San Diego on

You can also check out the first signs info at autismspeaks.com and by googling "first signs autism."

For me, the biggies were that my son wasn't pointing at a year old and had very limited speech by 18 months. He say something that was like a word ("bow-wow" for dog and "ha" for "hat") for a week or two, then stop. I had to fight my pediatrician, who kept telling me not to worry. I went around her and went through Children's Hospital C3 program and the Regional Center to get him diagnosed.

In retrospect, there were some other signs that sort of nagged at me, but I didn't recognize as autism. My son didn't play with toys the way other kids did -- he flipped through books and didn't look at them the way others do, for example. He also like to lie down on cool, flat surfaces. Now I know these were flags for his sensory differences.

I applaud you for wanting to be so informed. Whatever path your son follows, he is so lucky to have a mom like you who obviously cares so much for him.

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D.L.

answers from San Diego on

Go the the Autism Resource Guide on bluedominoes.com. Lots of links and information. Some people have had their children diagnosed as early as 18 months and there is a screening called CHAT that psychologists will use to see if kids this young are at risk. Most children usually get diagnosed around the 3 year mark using a questionnaire format called CARS. If you are at all concerned, look up the Regional Center in your area in the phone book. They provide screening and services for kids up until age 3 and this is all without a diagnosis. Once they hit 3, then they are turned over to the school system. My son was involved with the regional center until he was 3 and did not need further services through the district.

Also, in San Diego, there is a program through Children's Hospital at their satellite locations (Oceanside and Solana Beach for sure) that provides free classes with speech therapists, Occupational therapists, etc. They even have music classes and they were really wonderful. We went through a speech class and it was great. They also do screenings and hearing tests, etc.

D.

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L.C.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi N.,
I think the signs vary depending on the child. When my best friend's son was 2 years old I noticed that something was "off" but I couldn't really say for sure what it was. He made spoke, eye contact and gave hugs and kisses, etc. so it wasn't a clear thing that I saw - just more of a feeling. I never said anything to my friend and she never noticed anything herself. Then about 2 years later a teacher said something to her about it and her son was diagnosed with Aspergers. He's extremely smart and doing well in school and with Occupational Therapy has worked on his social skills. He's doing great now.

Try not to worry about something that will probably never happen. Just enjoy your son!

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T.Q.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hello N.,
I'm not sure if your child is showing any signs but if you live in california you can contact your local regional center. they can offer early interventionfor any delays you might notice for your child or speech therapy. they are usually pretty good. i once thought that my sister (big age difference) might have started showing signs of autism because she would stack things, line them up in a very anal manner, and did weird things but it turns out that it was just her personality. she is now 7 and is doing fine. also, my cousin thought that her daughter might be autistic because she was two years old and wouldnt respond to her name. she also turned 3 and had very limited vocabulary. once she started school, she was fine. i wouldnt worry for now but seek some professional help. god bless.

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M.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

there are several web sites that have the red flags for autism or just google Red Flags for Autism and they should come up. I suggest that if you are worried at all PLEASE have him tested but not by your ped. You can call the regional center close to you and tell them your concerns and see if they will do an assessment. If you need help please feel free to email me back.

MOM to three boys special needs therapist to so many

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M.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

I am a professional (pediatric neuropsychologist) who often diagnoses this condition in young children. Although your son is quite young, a good developmental peditrician (this is a different subspecialty than a regular pediatrician) ought to be able to alert you to any signs that development is going awry. Another option would be to request an evaluation with your local Regional Center. Due to your son's age, they may not be able to make a definitive diagnosis, but they will be able to tell you if he's developmentally on track and, if not, should offer intervention services.

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L.B.

answers from Los Angeles on

Signs can be seen as early as 14 months but because children develope at a different pace it is sometimes hard to tell especially if they are on the high end of the spectrum and social. Clear signs are the hand flapping/and or spinning, delayed language, not engaging socially(loner) putting toys in a row, spinning toys over and over. Becoming fixated on something they seem to "need". OCD behaviors like excessive hand washing etc..-because of the delayed language they get frustrated when they cannot get their needs met. If your child is at the high social end you may not notice the "social" delays. There are many other signs so if you suspect anything get him evaluated by the Regional Center. I work with Autistic children and many of the parents have told me that their Dr.told them not to be concernd, but their gut told them different. I can tell you FOR SURE- the earlier the intervention, the better for the child- things can turn around.

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J.V.

answers from Santa Barbara on

Hi N.. I'm pleased that the people who've responded have given you good advice. I am a speech/language pathologist ( the politically correct term for speech therapist) who has worked with kids on the spectrum for quite awhile. We keep hearing the stories of pediatricians who've told parents that their kids were fine, although the parents "knew" something was amiss. Parents are correct the majority of the time. The way I look at it, even if the parent is overly concerned- then the child is growing up in a household under a lot of tension, and the family needs to be supported. Another great website to check out is Autism Society of America ( www.autism -society.org). They have clear, reader friendly information.

It can be difficult to diagnosis a young child under 3 years sometimes, because there is an overlap in symptoms. Early intervention is the key though- to help support families as well as help all children develop to their potential.

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C.A.

answers from Los Angeles on

Autism is a range of symtoms. Misdiagnosis is not uncommon. High functioning autism can be masked by other problems like vision and hearing problems (my son!) and ADD and ADHD!. What I observed was inability to concentrate in noisy surrounds, obsession with one or two toys doing the same thing over and over (playing with one toy car and making engine sounds for hours), avoiding eye contact, verbal delays, gross and fine motor skills delays, inability to read facial expressions and/or body language, which leads to a lack of social skills until that ability is learned via therapy or intense teaching. By the way, autism IS NOT CAUSED BY MERCURY OR VACCINATIONS! (When will this misinformation stop?) However, I do understand the concern with multiple vaccinations at one time and for the child's sake, one at a time might be better, so that if there is an adverse reaction, you will know which one caused it! There may be a hereditary component to autism. If you have relatives that show some of these signs they could be high functioning autistic when in the "old days" they were called NERDS, or socially awkward brainy kids.

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D.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

I noticed it in my nephew at around 18-24 months. He was in the corral/play yard with my son and loved to spin around. When I was taking a picture with flash of the two of them, he started flapping his arms and vocalizing. He didn't talk until he was six or seven. He's high functioning and is now talking up a storm and is totally mainstreamed! Hope that helps.

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N.S.

answers from San Diego on

Hi N.,

I have a child with autism. He is 10 years old now, and let me just say that although we have many challenges since he is on the lower functioning end, he is also the joy of my life. Sometimes people say that kids with autism "live in their own world" or "do not give or receive affection"...neither of these are true for my son, partially because I have never accepted at face value the listed limitations.

So, to answer your question, the things that tipped me off before the age of two was; he was not speaking at all, he slept for about 30 minutes at a time all night long, he did not initiate interaction with me. He did not point to things or wave.

If you suspect your child may have autism, the sooner you have an evaluation by a Developmental Pediatrician, the better. The sooner you start specific interventions, the better he will be.

Best wishes,

N.

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V.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

read Impossible Cure by Amy Lansky
Good Luck, hope you won't need that much info, just FYI!

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T.

answers from Las Vegas on

N.,

My 5 year old son has autism. Looking back, he was "off" pretty much from birth. He was miserable, uncomfortable, colicy, didn't sleep much - didn't sleep at all unless he was held. Bright lights, loud noises, public places were all overwhelming for him. He's scream non-stop in the car any time we would go anywhere and the ride would be more than 15-20 minutes. He hit pretty much all of the developmental milestones at the end of the normal range. He rolled over around 6 months, sat up around 7 or 8, crawled around 9-10, walked right around 13 months. He said 2-3 words by 12 months and then never progressed with talking. He still said the same 2-3 words at 24 months. Basically there wasn't any one thing, it was a collection of little weird quirks. All kids have quirks, they are only a real problem when they are severe enough or there are enough of them to effect the kid's ability to function. My son has always been social. At 5, it is clear that he isn't always appropriately social (poor impulse control, difficulty with body boundaries, can't read facial cues or non-verbal cues from other people, can't grasp when he's being really annoying, etc...) but "inappropriately social" is really, really hard to spot until they get older. I did have a gut feeling that something wasn't right with my son even though EVERYONE including my pediatirican kept telling me I was nuts and he was fine. So if you have even the vaguest idea that your child isn't developmentally on track, make yourself an appointment with your local Early Intervention office (they are in the phone book or you can get the number from your pediatrician or your local school district). You can self-refer (you don't need anyone's permission to make an appointment!) and the evaluation is completely free. If your child is determined to be eligible for services, the services are also free and they'll come to your house.

If you have your child evaluated and there is nothing wrong, you can leave happy and quit worrying about it. If there is an issue with your child, the sooner you identify it and the sooner you start getting appropriate therapy, the better his long term prognosis. So getting an evaluation is a win/win situation and there are absolutely no negatives to doing it.

If your child does end up having an issue, you will love him just the same and he will still be the same child. But then you will have the tools to help him reach his potential.

Good luck to you,

T.

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B.K.

answers from Los Angeles on

Just a couple of early signs: no looking at faces/eyes. No direct eye/face contact. No talking, no babbling. No listening (not that this age listens well anyhow, my 18 month old is great at selecting hearing). Also, they may be very focused on (not playing with) their toys but lining them up or being very particular how things go or are placed. My friends son had a meltdown when my neice lost her shoe at Disneyland, he couldn't handle anything "being out of order."
One thing you may consider, his 18 month check up is coming, do NOT let them give him all 4 shots at one time, space them out one per month. You have that right. Some dr.s still use mercury based containers that does have something to do with messing up our chemical balance and may trigger autism. Autism is made up of mostly boys, so be extra careful. Signs start to show as they approach the 2 year old mark.

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J.D.

answers from Los Angeles on

The first thing is a big hug to you. The second is go to the wwww.tacanow.org website. There will be a wealth of information there for you, and every step of the way has been paved. Third, do not vaccinate until you figure out what is going on.

Email me anytime:o)
[email protected]____.com

www.tacanow.org Talk About Curing Autism, a support group for families, by families. These people have been at it for a long time and have been through it already. A well-worn path to follow with lots of resources, studies, practical information and a check list to see if you need to go further.

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B.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

I agree with all the other moms about following your gut. My older son is developmentally speech delayed. They tried to tell me he was autistic, but I kept telling them they were wrong, and it turned out I was right. He has a word retrieval disorder, not autism. You must pay close attention to your own child and follow your gut, even if professionals tell you not to worry or you are wrong. I believe very strongly that mother's intuition knows best!

As for symptoms, seems most below have mentioned them all. The one that everybody said my son had was not looking people in the eye. But he did it sporadically and only with people he knew and trusted. He didn't even give my mother a hug until he was 3, but my mother is a stress case and my son could sense this and didn't want to be that close to her.

Note that symptoms of autism do not turn on and off. They told me my son was autistic because the first psychologist to assess him he did not like and therefore totally ignored. Of course that looks like autism. So keep in mind that you should ask the assessors WHY they reach the diagnosis they do. When this psychologist answered the WHY question, the child she described did not sound like our son at all. That's when we knew we had to dig deeper.

Also, early intervention is key. Our son had a huge speech issue, but he's 6 now and has been in school for 3 years to help, and he's grown tremendously. Again, follow your gut about getting therapy. Right now my son is mainstreamed into regular kindergarten, and he's declined significantly in talking in school. We are in the process of fighting with the school district to get him extra services to bring him back to where he was before he began kindergarten.

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