What is Autism?
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today.
One-fourth of children under age 8 with autism remain undiagnosed. As we celebrate World Autism Awareness Day 2020, we have listed some early signs that may help parents identify children with autism. Read to know the warning signs.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates, one in 160 children suffer from Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) worlwide. The organisation, however, notes that the prevalence of ASD in many low- and middle-income countries remain unknown.
World Autism Awareness Day is observed on April 2 every year to recognize and celebrate the rights of persons with autism. On November 1, 2007, the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly decided to designate a day for World Autism Day.
The Assembly designated April 2 as the annual day for the World Autism Awareness Day from 2008. This year, the world is celebrating the 13th annual Autism Awareness Day amidst COVID-19 pandemic. The theme of World Autism Awareness Day 2020 is “The transition of adulthood”.
In his message to the world, UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged all the nations to take into account the rights of persons with autism in the formulation of all responses to the COVID-19 virus.
“We must ensure that a prolonged disruption caused by the emergency does not result in rollbacks of the rights that persons with autism and their representative organizations have worked so hard to advance,” he said.
Many Children With Autism Remain Undiagnosed
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication. There are three types of autism spectrum disorder: autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).
Despite growing awareness about this condition, one-fourth of children under age 8 with autism remain undiagnosed, according to a study. Some reasons for this disparity include communication or cultural barriers between parents and physicians, anxiety about the complicated diagnostic process and fear of stigma.
The researchers suggested that screening all toddlers, pre-school and school-age children for autism could help reduce the disparities in diagnosis. Parents can also play a big role in filling up this gap.
According to experts, signs of autism usually appear by age 2 or 3. However, some associated development delays can appear even earlier. These can be diagnosed as early as 18 months.
Early Signs Of Autism Parents Should Be Aware Of
Early assessment and intervention can help reduce progressive symptom development. Early intervention can also lead to positive outcomes later in life for people with autism – say research. Besides language delays and behavioural differences, the way a child interacts with peers can help identify autism. Here are some early signs that may help parents identify children with autism.
- A child with autism might not respond to their parents’ smile or other facial expressions
- Even at 12 months, if s/he may not turn to look even after you call his/her name repeated several times
- An autistic kid may not make eye contact or makes very little eye contact.
- If your kid is autistic, s/he may not look at objects or events you are pointing to
- A child with ASD is typically unable to make friends or shows less interest in making friends
- Autistic kid may not point at things to show what they want or share things with others
- If even by 16 months of age, your child is not able to say single words. It may be a sign of autism.
- See if your child is repeating exactly what others say without understanding the meaning like parroting.
- An autistic kid may find difficulty with change or transition from one activity to another. S/he likes routines, order, and rituals.
- An autistic kid may get obsessed with a few or unusual activities, and repeat them multiple times during the day
- If your child likes playing with parts of toys instead of the whole toy, it is a sign you need to worry about.