Autism, what are the signs!

How to identify Autism...this is a very common question for parents who suspect their child may be autistic. While there are a great diversity in the skills and behaviors of the individuals diagnosed as autistic, and their physicians will often arrive at different conclusions about the appropriate diagnosis of autism. Much of this can be explained by looking at the sensory system of autistics, which is proven to be quite different from the sensory system of other people.  Since certain stimulations can affect the autistic person differently than a non-autistic, and the level to which the sensory system is affected will vary greatly from one autistic person to another.

Nevertheless, professionals within pediatrics, child psychology, behavior analysis, and child development often look for the early indicators of autism in order to begin treating the autistic as early as possible, for the greatest benefit. However, some people do not believe in the treatment of autism, either because they do not believe autism is a true disorder, or because they believe the treatment of autism can do more harm, than good for the patient.

The vast majority of those diagnosed with autism have a slightly enlarged brain size, when compared to those of normal people. Neurology Today (Volume 2,8: August 2002) stated that "Although it is accepted that autistic individuals have, on average, an enlarged brain size, the nature of this abnormality remains unknown.

What will the physician look for to diagnose Autism?

Some indicators for autism can include over sensitivity, or under reactivity to touch, movement, sights, or sounds; delays in speech, language or motor skills; specific learning difficulties/delays in academic achievement; a tendency to be easily distracted; physical clumsiness or carelessness; poor body awareness; impulsive physical or verbal behavior; an activity level that is unusually high or low; not unwinding or calming oneself; difficulty learning new movements; difficulty in making transitions from one situation to another; social and/or emotional problems.

While another common symptom for Autism would be autistic hearing. The autistic person may have difficulty hearing certain people, while other people will seem to be louder than usual. The autistic person may also be unable to filter out some sounds in certain situations, an example might be, as in a large group of people (see the cocktail party effect). This however, is a part of autism that seems to vary greatly from one person to another.  These examples will not be apparent in every autistic person, but hopefully they've helped you to learn how to identify autism a little better.

Autistic Repetitive Behavior

Although patients with autism will usually appear to be physically normal, and also have good muscle control, the presence of unusual repetitive motions, also known as self-stimulation, or "stimming," maybe a visible sign of autism. These behaviors might prove to be pronounced and highly visible, or more subtle, and hardly noticeable. 

Many children, as well as many older autistic individuals will spend a lot of their time repeating the same motion over, and over again, such as; flapping their arms, or wiggling their toes, others may suddenly freeze in one position for an extended amount of time. The autistic child, may spend many hours just lining up their toy cars and trains in a precise way, but never using them for play as would be expected of a non-autistic child. If one toy is accidentally moved, the autistic child may become very upset.

The autistic child will often need, and demand, absolute and total consistency in their environment and life.  Even a very minor change in any of their daily routines—taking a bath, in mealtimes, dressing, or going to school at a certain time and by the same route—can prove to be extremely disturbing to the autistic.

Autistics many times will have persistent, and intense preoccupations, which can be over anything they believe to be important. Some examples might be, the autistic child might become obsessed with learning all about radios, automobiles, or even baseball. Often they will show intense interest in numbers, different languages, mathematics, symbols, or science topics. Many times these repetitive behaviors will also extend into the autistics spoken word, as well. The repeating of a single word or phrase, which might only be for a specific number of times, may also become a large part of the autistic child's daily routine.

For more information about autism and the autistic community be sure to check out the resources available at answers-about-autism.

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