The signs I wish I knew to look for, earlier on …
This is a list I put together from numerous websites and handouts. I needed to spell it out for myself to help myself accept that my son had ASD. Had I known some of these signs, I could have figured things out even sooner for Zane.
Autism Research Centre – CHAT docwww.autismresearchcentre.com/arc_tests
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Red Flags for Possible Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Delay or absence of spoken language.
- Looks through people; not aware of others.
- Not responsive to other people’s facial expressions/feelings.
- Lack of pretend play; little or no imagination.
- Does not show typical interest in peers, or play near peers purposefully.
- Lack of turn taking.
- Unable to share pleasure.
- Qualitative impairment in nonverbal communication.
- Not pointing at an object to direct another person to look at it.
- Lack of gaze monitoring.
- Lack of initiation of activity or social play.
- Unusual or repetitive hand and finger mannerisms.
- Unusual reactions, or lack of reaction, to sensory stimuli.
- Not speak as well as his or her peers?
- Have poor eye contact?
- Not respond selectively to his or her name?
- Act as if he or she is in his or her own world?
- Seem to “tune others out”?
- Not have a social smile that can be elicited reciprocally?
- Seem unable to tell you what he or she wants, thus preferring to lead you by the
hand or get desired objects on his or her own, even at risk of danger?
- Have difficulty following simple commands?
- Not bring things to you to simply “show” you?
- Not point to interesting objects to direct your attention to objects or events of
- Have unusually long and severe temper tantrums?
- Have repetitive, odd, or stereotypic behaviors?
- Show an unusual attachment to inanimate objects, especially hard ones (e.g., a flashlight or a chain vs. a teddy bear or a blanket)? loves to chew hard objects
- Prefer to play alone?
- Demonstrate an inability to play with toys in the typical way?
- Not engage in pretend play (if older than two years)?
- exhibits pica (eating things/mouthing that are not eatable, dirt, rocks, toys, paper etc…)
- loss of words
- eczema is often found in children with ASD
Impaired reciprocal social interaction
Examples include the following:
- poor use of body language and nonverbal communication, such as eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures;
- lack of awareness of feelings of others and the expression of emotions, such as pleasure (laughing) or distress (crying), for reasons not apparent to others;
- remaining aloof, preferring to be alone;
- difficulty interacting with other people and failure to make peer friendships;
- may not want to cuddle or be cuddled;
- lack of or abnormal social play;
- not responding to verbal cues (acting as if deaf).
Examples include the following:
- delay in, or the total lack of, the development of spoken language or speech;
- if speech is developed, it is abnormal in content and quality;
- difficulty expressing needs and wants, verbally and/or nonverbally;
- repeating words or phrases back when spoken to (known as echolalia);
- inability to initiate or sustain conversation;
- absent or poorly developed imaginary play.
Restricted repertoire of interests, behaviors, and activities Examples include the following:
- insisting on following routines and sameness, resisting change;
- ritualistic or compulsive behaviors;
- sustained odd play;
- repetitive body movements (hand flapping, rocking) and/or abnormal posture (toe walking);
- preoccupation with parts of objects or a fascination with repetitive movement (spinning wheels, turning on and off lights);
- narrow, restricted interests (dates/calendars, numbers, weather, movie credits).
There are a number of associated features and behaviors that are seen in some people with autism, including the following:
Autism occurs at all intelligence levels. Although about 75% of autistic individuals have an intelligence quotient (IQ) below average, the other 25% have an average or above average intelligence. The performance IQ is generally higher than the verbal IQ. A small percentage have high intelligence in a specific area such as mathematics.
- Seizures may develop in 25% to 35% of children with autism and can be resistant to treatment. The onset of seizures peaks in early childhood and again in adolescence. There is an increased risk of seizures in children with autism who have mental retardation or a family history of autism.
- Uneven gross and/or fine motor skills (well developed in some areas, poorly developed in others)
Behavioral symptoms include
- aggressive or self-injurious behavior;
- noticeable extreme underactivity or overactivity;
- throwing tantrums;
- short attention span;
- abnormal responses to sensory stimuli (for example, expressing over sensitivity or undersensitivity to pain);
- abnormalities in eating or sleeping;
- not responding to normal teaching methods;
- playing in odd or unusual ways;
- having inappropriate attachment to objects;
- having no apparent fear of dangerous situations.
Mood and affect
- Mood and affect vary considerably, and may include being unaware of the feelings of others, withdrawn, or emotionally labile. Some people with autism become outwardly anxious or they may become depressed in response to the realization of their problems.
- In some children with autism who express affection, the affection may be indiscriminate.