What is Autism?
Autism is a disease, disorder, or syndrome, which typically appears in the first three years of life. Autism affects functions of the brain, interfering with reasoning abilities, communication, and social interaction. Some children with autism never speak while others start talking later than typical children. Those who speak often have difficulty with conversational skills. They often avoid eye contact and have difficulty understanding social cues. Autistic children do not tend to exhibit symbolic play in a typical way and some engage in repetitive, and at times self-abusive behaviors. Autism affects four times as many boys as it does girls. Autism is different for each child.
Is my child autistic?
As of today there is no medical test that can determine if your child has autism or is on the “autistic spectrum”. A diagnosis of autism can be determined by a professional observing your child’s behaviors. Each child is different and therefore will not behave the same as other autistic children. However, there are some generalizations that are useful in helping determine if a child has autism. The following observations are taken from many different parents that have autistic children. When reading the list below, please keep in mind this is just a generalization and should not be used to determine if your child has autism. Some parents of autistic children will answer “yes” to many of theses questions, while others may only answer “yes” to a few. Autism ranges in its degree of severity. If there is any doubt, please take your child to be assessed by a professional.
Does my child…
- have “selective” hearing, meaning sometimes he responds to you, but often does not?
- have a language development delay?
- like to open and close doors repeatedly, or watch lights or fans?
- flap his hands or twirl/move his fingers near his face?
- tantrum frequently and at times for no obvious reason?
- hate getting his hair or nails cut?
- repeat over and over, word for word what is said to him, or what he hears on videos/TV?
- line up toys or objects?
- have a high pain threshold?
- eat only a few specific foods and craves sugar or salt?
- not ask for help when needed?
- seem to look off into nowhere or “zone out”?
- watch the same video over and over again?
- run or pace back and forth?
- not have words or skills that he once had?
- avoid eye contact?
- rock, spin, jump, or bounce often?
- twirl string or paper clips?
- have a distended abdomen, profuse sweating, or excessive thirst/urination?
- hate buying new shoes?
- cover his ears or seems overly sensitive to sounds, light, odors, or touch?
- have consistent difficulty sleeping or getting to sleep?
- act extremely fatigued, passive, restless, or hyperactive?
- play next to other children, but not with them?
- seem to be unaware of danger?
- not point his finger?
- have a difficult time with transitions or change?
- turn cars over and spin the wheels?
- fixate on trains, other topics, or parts of objects?
- have chronic diarrhea and/or constipation?
- have dark circles under his eyes, red cheeks or earlobes?
What do I do now?
If your child has any of the above behaviors, we urge you to see your Doctor and school district to obtain an autism screening. The earlier a child is diagnosed and treated, the better the chance of recovery from autism. If it is discovered that your child has autism, PDD (pervasive developmental disorder), or Aspergers Syndrome, use this web page as a tool to help you help your child become the best that he can. Feel free to e-mail us with any questions you may have.