-My son is already 2 yrs but he has not started speaking”. -Don’t worry my dear, he will. Just wait for few more months. -but he is not even looking at me when I’m talking to him. No response to any instructions. No playing with other children. -may be he is little shy. Just wait. He will overcome this as well. -he is hyperactive at home. Always breaking things. -my dear all children are naughty. His father was a menace as a child. This are the excerpts from the conversation of a mother whose child was later diagnosed with autism. Majority of such moms and dads say ‘I had suspicion of something wrong when he was 15-16 months old but people suggested me to wait as many children outgrow these problems.’
Autism is a complex developmental disorder with impairments in-
- Verbal and nonverbal communication
- Reciprocal social interaction
- Associated with stereotypical repetitive behaviour.
There are certain early signs which parents can notice in pre-school children whose presence warrant early consultation with a specialist.
- Delayed or no spoken language
- Repetition of same words or questions (Echolalia)
- Do not respond to other people’s expression and look through them as if they do not exist
- Poor eye contact
- Lack of pretend play
- Do not show interest in peers
- Do not show interest in social or organized play
- Unable to share pleasure with others
- Do not point an object of interest to show it to others
- Extreme reaction to change of routine
- Do not communicate non verbally unusual repetitive hand and finger movements like hand flapping
- Hyperactivity unusual for his age
- Unusually high or low reaction to sensory stimuli like sounds or lights.
5 internationally recognised red flag signs of autism are-
- Doesn’t babble or coo by 12 months.
- Doesn’t gesture(point, wave, grasp) by 12 months.
- Doesn’t say a single word by 16 months
- Doesn’t say 2 word phrase on his or her own(but may have echolalia for multiple words) by 24 months.
- Has loss of any language or social skills at any age.
Other associations of autism-
- Learning disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Mental ill health and behavioural problems
- Anxiety or depression
- ADHD etc