What Are The Signs Of Toddler Autism?

Autism is a condition that is often misunderstood, and sometimes goes undiagnosed. Because of the popular portrayal of autism in movies such as “Rain Man,” many people don’t expect that their toddler could be autistic just because he isn’t behaving in the way that Dustin Hoffman did in that movie. Still, it is important to understand autism, and how exactly it can present itself in a toddler.

During regular well child checkups with your pediatrician or health care provider, she will likely check certain developmental milestones. If she does not do this sort of testing, you should ask that it be done. Keep in mind that your observations about your toddler’s behavior are just as valuable to your health care provider as your toddler’s behavior while he is in the health care providers office. If your health care provider believes that your child may have autism, she will likely schedule some other screening tests or make a referral to someone that can do this sort of testing.

There are a variety of signs that can suggest that a toddler might be autistic. These can include:

– A significant problem with developing nonverbal communication skills, such as facial expressions, body posture, and eye-to-eye gazing – A lack of shared interests with other toddlers – A failure to make friendships with children of the same age – Difficulty understanding other peoples’ feelings, or a lack of empathy – Delayed speech, or a lack of talking – Repetitive use of language, often a phrase or word that the toddler has heard previously – An unusual focus on the smaller parts of a toy (such as a wheel on a toy car rather than the car itself – A Preoccupation with patterned topics, such as license plates or train schedules – An inability to function without a routine (such as going to school via the same route every day) – Rocking of the body or flapping of the hands – A lack of interest in age-appropriate games – The appearance of hearing difficulties – Some form of special skills, such as memorizing lists or calculating dates – Unusual sense perceptions, such as not feeling pain or seeming to be overly sensitive to pain.

Fortunately for the child with autism and for his parents, autism does not have to be totally disabling. If diagnosed early and treated appropriately, most toddlers with autism will indeed improve their ability to relate with others, and to help themselves, and to communicate. Most autistic children don’t have to continue to live in their own world, socially isolated from everyone else. Still, roughly 2/3 of people with autism as adults are not able to lead independent lives, requiring a variety of care giving well into adulthood and through the rest of their lives.

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