You never want to believe that your little one has any problem when you are a parent. However, catching early autism is causing concerns for parents. Catching early autism – especially up until 18 months of age – is one of the main worries parents usually have. However, you shouldn’t lose hope no matter how old is your child. Autism signs in babies can be different. But, with proper treatment, the condition’s symptoms can be reduced and your child will be able to grow, thrive, and learn properly.
Recognizing early signs of autism in babies is crucial and you should be able to distinguish them from other conditions. So, you need to have some knowledge on the topic to be able to recognize these symptoms.
Autism – What it is Actually?
Autism is expressed through a lot of different symptoms. The spectrum of autism disorder symptoms is usually appearing in early childhood and infancy. This is the reason why babies with autism usually have delayed development. Learning to talk, interact with others, and play is usually a bit hard for those babies who suffer from autism.
As already mentioned, the symptoms and signs of autism vary. This can also be said for the effects of the disease. Some children have huge obstacles to overcome, while other babies with autism may have only mild impairments. However, almost every baby that has autism will have problems in at least one of these areas:
- Behaving and thinking flexibly
- Relating to the world around them
- Verbal and non-verbal communication
Doctors, experts, and parents have different opinions about what causes autism. Also, there is not a single method proved to work the best to treat the disorder. However, everyone agrees that recognizing early signs of autism in babies and intensive intervention may help by quite a lot when it comes to treatment. Children who show early signs and children at risk can be helped a lot if autism signs in babies are recognized early.
How Can You Recognize Early Signs?
You, as a parent, are in the best position to recognize any early warning sign of autism in your child. Your pediatrician might not be able to observe your child’s behavior in a quick 15-minute check. Don’t think that your own experience and observations don’t matter. A pediatrician is a valuable partner, but without your help, your baby’s doctor will be able to help only so far. This is why it is important to educate yourself to know what is considered normal and what is not.
Always trust your instinct. Immediately consult with your baby’s pediatrician if you notice any signs of autism. Your baby’s pediatrician will take your concerns seriously and further examination will be done. Developmental delays are usually easily noticed. However, keep in mind that sometimes even the best doctors might miss some red flags and underestimate a problem. Be persistent if something in your gut is telling you that not everything is fine. Ask for a child development specialist, seek a second opinion, or just schedule a follow-up appointment with the doctor.
Your child’s development needs to be monitored. As already mentioned, autism has many different developmental delays. This is why it is really important to keep an eye on your baby’s brain development. To be more specific, pay attention if your baby is hitting the key cognitive, emotional, and social milestones. This is an effective way to spot early signs of autism in babies. Also, keep in mind that developmental delays don’t necessarily point to autism, but could be an indicator of an underlying problem.
Don’t just wait. Usually, parents are told “Wait and see” or “Don’t worry.” People sometimes don’t realize that waiting is the worst thing you can do. By doing so, you will be wasting the most important time of your child’s life when there could be a chance for improvement. Also, kids with developmental delays have a lot of trouble when trying to “grow out” of their problems. Your child needs targeted treatment and extra help to develop skills in a delayed area.
Take action. Every kid is different – which means that every kid will develop at a different pace. You shouldn’t be panicking if your baby is a little late to walk or talk. There’s a wide range of “normal” when it comes to healthy development. However, don’t just sit there if you notice that your baby is not meeting the above-mentioned milestones. Share concerns with your baby’s pediatrician as soon as possible.
10 Usual Signs of Autism in Babies
The treatment of autism in young babies sometimes takes full advantage of the baby’s brain. Usually, autism signs in babies can be recognized between 12 and 18 months of age. The hard thing is that autism is usually really hard to diagnose before a baby is at least 2 years old. Intensive treatment will probably help if there are signs before the child turn 18 months. This treatment can reverse the symptoms and rewire the brain.
It is tough to spot early signs of autism in babies because the condition involves the absence of normal behaviors. Sometimes, the earliest autism signs can be mistaken for signs of a “good baby.” The reason for this is that an infant may act independent, quiet, and undemanding. However, if you know what you are looking for, you should be able to spot early warning signs.
Here are 10 common autism signs in babies:
- Not responding to cuddling, not looking at a mother while being fed
- Not making noises to get your attention
- Not playing with other kids and not sharing enjoyment and interests
- Not responding to her or his name or any familiar voice
- Not caring or noticing if you are hurt or experiencing discomfort
- Not waving goodbye or pointing at things, or using any other gesture for communication
- Not imitating your facial expressions and movements
- Not following your gesture when you are pointing things out
- Not reaching out to be picked p
- No eye contact when being smiled at
Here are developmental red flags. If you notice any of these you should contact your baby’s pediatrician as soon as possible.
By six months: No joyful expressions and big smiles
By nine months: No sharing of smiles, sounds, and other facial expressions
By twelve months: Improper response to name and no baby talk or babbling. Also, no waving, reaching, showing or pointing at things. No gestures.
By sixteen months: No words
By twenty-four months: No two-word phrases. Keep in mind that a sign of autism is only if your child is not able to do two-word phrases without repeating or imitating.
What Causes Autism?
It was believed that the cause for autism was mainly due to the genetic predispositions until recently. However, doctors and experts suggest that environmental factors are playing a crucial role in developing autism in babies.
The scientists now suggest that babies may be born with a genetic vulnerability to autism. Some babies with such vulnerability might never develop autism if they are kept in an ideal external environment. However, if a baby is exposed to certain factors even while still in the womb, autism may develop in the early stages of life.
In this context, the environment means anything outside the baby’s body. The list of external triggers is not just limited to toxins or pollution in the atmosphere. The prenatal environment is considered to be the most important environment.
- The mother’s and father’s age
- Maternal infections during pregnancy
- Taking antidepressants in the first three months of pregnancy
- Certain complications at birth such as neonatal anemia and low birth weight
- Nutritional deficiencies in early pregnancy
- Exposure to chemical pollutants such as pesticides and metals while pregnant
Scientists say that there’s a need for more formal research on the prenatal factors. However, if you’re trying to conceive or you are pregnant, consider these factors mentioned above to reduce the risk of autism.
How to Reduce the Risk of Autism
There are a few things you can do while you are pregnant to reduce the risk of autism.
- Prenatal care. You should always see your clinician for regular check-ups if you want to be 100% sure you will give birth to a healthy child. Also, try avoiding infections and keep in mind to eat nutritious food.
- Consider taking a multivitamin. Consult with your doctor and start taking 400 micrograms of folic acid if your doctor approves it. Doing this may prevent spina bifida and some other birth defects. It is still unclear whether taking multivitamin reduces the chances of autism, but you can’t go wrong for sure.
- Some women may develop depression during pregnancy and start taking SSRI to help themselves. It is recommended to consult with a clinician whether you should keep taking these drugs. SSRIs may increase the chances of developing autism. However, untreated depression may also affect the child after birth. This is why it is always hard to decide what to do in this situation.
What to do When You are Worried?
You should immediately schedule an appointment with your baby’s pediatrician if you notice any red flags for autism or development delays. Your child should be regularly screened by a pediatrician even if you don’t notice any signs, so you shouldn’t skip this step anyway. It is recommended by The American Academy of Pediatrics that babies should be taken to regular check-ups for development when they are 9, 18, and 30 months old.
Autism screening. There is a variety of screening tools that are effective in identifying babies with autism. Usually, these screening tools are straightforward and quick. There is usually a checklist of symptoms or a bulk of yes-or-no questions. You should also inform your baby’s pediatrician about the baby’s previous behavior. Be sure that every pediatrician knows to recognize early signs of autism in babies and that you will get proper results of the test.
Developmental specialist. Your child will be referred to a developmental specialist if your baby’s pediatrician notices any signs of autism. A specialist can recognize autism signs in babies better. Also, he or she will do a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation to determine whether your baby has autism. Screening tools are not helpful when doing this, so this is the reason why a specialist will be needed. Several tests will be done by the specialist to determine whether there’s a reason to worry. However, keep in mind that clinicians usually won’t diagnose a baby with autism if it is not at least 30 months old.
Intervention services. Diagnosing autism will usually take a while – mainly because it is really hard to determine the condition. However, particular intervention services will help your child as soon as you notice some developmental delays. Your baby’s pediatrician should be able to refer your child to an early intervention service. This is a federally funded program for babies with certain disabilities. A couple of several early warning signs may point at developmental delays. These children will benefit from early intervention. In simple words, there is less risk if your child receives an early intervention than if you just wait and see what happens.
Baby Planet Overview
There are a lot of different autism signs in babies. This is why it is so hard to determine whether a child has the condition. However, there are a lot of early symptoms you need to keep an eye to be sure what the next step is. You should always consult with your baby’s pediatrician if you notice any of the symptoms. Keep in mind that your baby might just need a bit more time to reach a particular milestone.
Don’t be just waiting to see what happens if you notice some particular signs of autism in your baby. The sooner your baby’s condition is determined the better. Look for the 10 early signs mentioned in the article if you doubt your baby might have autism.