How to recognize a person suffering from an autism spectrum disorder?
The Autism is characterized by impaired ability of the individual to communicate and engage in social relations, and the existence of repetitive behaviors. This neurological disorder occurs in 1 in every 100 births.
It is a complex condition that affects the development of the child, it is usually diagnosed around the age of 3, and there are no differences regarding its appearance in different cultures or social classes. It is more common in boys than girls. and according to DSM-V it belongs to autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
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Signs to detect Autism
Each individual with autism experiences symptoms differently and with different degrees of severity. However, the following 10 signs and symptoms are considered the warning symptoms of autism in children :
1. Disconnection with others
Children with autism tend to be distant or disconnected from loved ones (parents, siblings, etc.). For example, these people may appear to have no emotional connection and do not understand the difference between facial cues. In other words, children with autism often do not react differently to a frown or smile from another person.
Studies carried out on this disorder indicate that people with autism are unable to formulate an explanation for the thinking or behavior of others. that is to say, they present a deficit in the theory of mind. The theory of mind refers to the ability to put yourself in the place of the other.
2. The apparent lack of empathy
Another common characteristic of children with autism, which also has to do with the theory of mind, is that they have difficulty empathizing with others. Although a lack of empathy can be difficult to detect and evaluate effectively in infants and toddlers, there are specific signs that show a lack of empathy ability.
Autistic children seem to have difficulty understanding or appreciating situations from other people’s perspective. This is because they think that everyone understands the world as they do, which can cause confusion or the inability to foresee or understand the actions of others.
3. They are indifferent to social interactions
The vast majority of children are naturally very sociable. However, children with autism do not spend time looking at the faces of others, responding when hearing their name, imitating the facial expressions of others, or holding the hands of others during play. In contrast, children with autism often do not seem very interested in participating in normal child development games and activities, including socializing and imitating other people.
These signs begin to manifest at 18 months of age, and as socialization with others continues, symptoms may be more noticeable. For example, by 3 years of age, normal children often want to play with toys with other children. Autistic children, on the other hand, prefer to play alone.
4. Presence of emotional outbursts
In some cases, children with autism may show disproportionate emotional reactions in seemingly normal situations. For example, temper tantrums inappropriate for the context or physically aggressive behavior towards themselves (eg head banging), their parents, siblings, or others.
They may seem unable to control their emotions and physical responses, especially when they find themselves in new, strange, or stressful situations. Parents must carefully monitor their children’s social responses throughout their development, and become familiar with the important moments and behavioral expectations that a child should display when he or she reaches a certain age. Although it is relatively rare, this type of emotional outburst should be taken into account and mentioned to a specialist, as it can help to make a correct diagnosis.
5. Delayed language development
By 2 years of age, most babies begin to babble or imitate the language of those who interact with them, and utter a single word when they point to an object or try to get the attention of their parents.
However, children with autism don’t start babbling or talking until much later. In fact, some do not begin to show significant language skills until they start working with a speech therapist.
6. Prone to non-verbal communication
Due to the fact that autistic children do not develop verbal communication skills at the same time as normal children, they may show a propensity for non-verbal communication.
For example, they may use visual or physical means of communication, such as drawings or gestures, to make requests or participate in a back-and-forth dialogue. Another telltale sign of autism is that children may show a decline in their verbal skills; for example, they may lose vocabulary.
7. Difficulty understanding figurative expressions
Children with autism also often have trouble understanding that people sometimes express themselves figuratively. As has been said, they do not obtain any secondary meaning from attitude or facial expressions, nor do they detect communication signals based on the tone of voice; for example, they do not distinguish a happy tone of voice from a sad or angry tone of voice.
Another related symptom is that autistic children tend to have more trouble distinguishing between what is real and what is fiction. Interestingly, autistic children can be imaginatively very alive, and some seem to prefer to inhabit their own imaginary worlds.
8. They show repetitive behaviors
Individuals with autism are more likely to display repetitive behaviors.
For example, they may arrange and rearrange the same group of objects, back and forth for extended periods of time, or obsessively repeat the same word or phrase. This is one of the most easily identifiable symptoms.
9. They present Pica
The syndrome Pica is associated with autism as 30% of children with this disorder also have Pica.
This behavior is characterized by the fact that children ingest substances that are not nutritious, such as dirt, stones, paper or biological substances. Although Pica can be seen in other young children as well, individuals with autism continue to do this practice at older ages.
10. Sensitivity to external stimuli
Sensitivity to external stimuli is another early warning sign of autism. For example, autistic individuals may become stressed or agitated when exposed to specific noises, bright lights, smells, or particular tastes, and some autistic children may avoid certain colors, clothing, sounds, lights, or areas of the home for no apparent reason.
However, they can also become extremely sensitive to certain stimuli, and they will insist on wearing certain clothing or colors, rooms with bright lights or loud sounds, and enjoying touching or playing with specific parts of the body. Many autistic children also experience emotional stress when deprived of their favorite stimuli.