Whether or not your baby has autism is a question that probably hasn’t crossed your mind – and don’t worry, they probably don’t. However, autism rates are on the rise, so it’s a good idea to know what the early signs are. This is really important, since starting therapy early has been shown to improve the quality of life for autistic children. It’s a question that you probably don’t want to ask, but you owe it to your child to be on the lookout.
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Most babies will smile back at you if you smile at them, and if you bend over their cot, the chances are that they will reach out to you to be picked up. On the other hand, autistic babies often don’t respond in this way – they have trouble relating to other people’s emotions, and therefore don’t behave in the same way that other infants do. This is one of the earliest autism signs to look out for, and if you are concerned you should talk to your pediatrician.
As your baby starts to get a little bit older, there is nothing more exciting than hearing their first words. Normally, they have started to make baby talk by the time they are 12 months old, and have spoken their first real words by the time they reach 18 months. However, language development in autistic children can be delayed – and some children with severe cases are never able to speak – so this is another sign you should look out for. Don’t get too concerned early on, since babies develop at different rates. However, if there is no sign of speech by 18 months, you should probably have it checked out.
There are other signs to look out for, including as your baby becomes a toddler. For instance, if they don’t play normally with other children, this may be a sign that something is wrong. Also, it’s normal for babies and children to imitate your gestures – and if they don’t, then this too might indicate that they have some sort of autistic disorder.
If you do discover that your child has autism, then don’t despair. Many children with autism grow up to live relatively normal and productive lives. One thing that seems to be key is to start treatment early – as just mentioned – and to tailor the treatment to a child’s specific needs. The symptoms and severity of autism vary widely between children, and so many treatment centers use autism therapy management software to help them track the progress of each child and plan targeted therapy – so that they have the best opportunity to develop.
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Finally, remember that autistic children often don’t respond to the same things that other children do. For instance, many of them don’t like strange things – and get upset when things change. So, while it would seem unfair for a child without autism, many children with the condition respond better to a highly structured and regimented routine. Also, some autistic children behave in extreme ways, and you will need help to learn how to deal with this.