Autism First-Signs in Toddlers

As people began to recognize autism, the diagnosis of autism began at an earlier age. This is actually a very pleasing development in terms of child development. It is now possible to find many children diagnosed as toddlers. Before this diagnosis, parents want to see the first signs of autism in their toddlers. The first signs and symptoms of autism in toddlers are listed down below to help parents to get an idea to take their toddlers to professionals. 

The most important first signs of autism in toddlers include avoiding eye contact, being unresponsive as they are called by their names, and making distinctly repetitive movements. Although it differs from toddler to toddler, when your child is tried to be laughed at, not laughing showing excessive interest in rotating objects, not waving, not sending kisses, swinging or walking on their fingertips, having delays in speech compared to their peers, and focusing on something for a long time are also among the symptoms that may suggest autism in toddlers.

After the age of 1.5, a difference is observed as a result of the observation of behaviors that cause communication problems and families turn to treatment for their children. Although there is not a very healthy and certain diagnosis between the ages of 1.5 and 2, autism can be diagnosed. However, after your toddler turns 3, autism assessments are done again to make a clear diagnosis.

Generally, if your toddler does not make any noise in the 9th month, does not try to communicate with the parents, does not look back when his/her name is called at the age of 1, does not say a single meaningful word at 16 months, then parents may start to suspect their children have autism.

What Are the First Signs of Autism in Toddlers?

1. A rhythmic interaction consisting of mutual speech sounds is not observed during infancy.

2. They do not have the mutual and social smiles required for social relationships.

3. They avoid eye contact and cannot come into contact against their will.

4. Sleep and eating problems are observed.

5. They are very picky about looking at sounds. Especially when the name is called, there is a situation like not looking.

6. Making goodbye or waving hands used for greeting does not develop.

7. There is little use of mimics. That’s why they have a dull or serious facial expression.

8. When their mother or father comes home, they do not greet with joy or enthusiasm, they do not run to the door.

9. They don’t understand the difference between strangers and their parents. They do not show that they know their mother and father. They treat them like strangers.

10. They do not prefer to play with soft objects more often when playing with hard objects.

11. They cannot set up games by themselves. They cannot create imaginary games.

12. Their requests cannot show things with their fingers by pointing. They do not act like pointing, grabbing the adult’s hand and making a sign, or placing the adult’s hand on the desired thing.

13. They do not look at the indicated and pointed place. They cannot provide joint attention.

14. They cannot show, bring, or share anything that they like or love.

15. Unlike their peers, they do not engage in entertaining behaviors that try to grab the attention of their parents or adults around them. Usually, they ignore the people around them.

16. They are not ashamed and are not afraid of the people around them.

Intellectual Development Characteristics of Toddlers with Autism

The most surprising feature of children with autism is that although they have limited skills in many areas, they can have special skills in some areas. Some children with autism may not be able to speak, but they can sing or play an instrument very well. It is stated that these children have strong memory skills as well as musical skills.

For example, they might remember the date of a celebration last year or the time of a random trip. It is known that some children with autism do not forget a place they went to years ago and a special item in that place can easily memorize very long poems that anyone would have difficulty memorizing, or repeat a very long speech that they listened to in any TV program.

Some toddlers with autism can learn to read on their own. However, they cannot understand what they read and cannot make sense of what they read. This condition observed in toddlers is defined as hyperlexia. Hyperlexia is generally observed in individuals with autism with high intelligence levels and mostly in boys.

Another special skill of toddlers with autism is on numbers and numerical relationships. Some toddlers with autism learn numbers very quickly and can do very difficult operations mentally. In addition, the visual perception of some individuals with autism is much better than their other skills. There are also children with autism who can copy the pictures they see very well, who can easily remove and install mechanical toys, or who can easily complete complex puzzles.

Experts emphasize how important mental development is at every opportunity. Every individual has an innate capacity for intelligence. In order to use this capacity at the highest level, the environment, stimuli, and conscious families are among the factors affecting mental development. By keeping this information at the focal point, studies are carried out aiming to maximize the innate intelligence capacities of these toddlers by providing active, participating, researching, and stimulating opportunities and training to the child with autism.

Language Development Characteristics of Toddlers with Autism

It has been determined that babbling (ba-ba-ba sounds) seen in babies with normal development is not seen in babies with autism. It has also been observed that the people around them are unresponsive to talking to them or calling them. Some toddlers with autism remain completely silent, while others, like their peers, can learn a few words.

As we all know, the two main symptoms of autism are speech, language, and communication problems. In approximately 40% of children with autism, speech may not develop or, if it does, it may be limited. Functional communication may not develop in pre-school education age in 80% of children with autism. Some toddlers with autism lose all or part of their existing language. This situation is called autistic regression.

Some children with autism may start talking too late. This situation can even be seen in adolescence. Therefore, it is absolutely not correct to make definitive judgments on children with autism.

During the toddlers period, children who can gain speaking skills at the age of 4 and before can use the language actively when they reach school age, and they can use the language more effectively in the same or even in some subjects with the peer group. Studies are also carried out to determine the reasons why children with autism do not speak, talk late, or speak with jargon, and eliminate these situations and bring them to the best possible level.

Social and Emotional Development Characteristics of Toddlers with Autism

For professionals, children’s social communication skills are one of the determining factors in the diagnosis of autism. Both the simple and complex social communication skills of toddlers with autism often progress more slowly than their normally developed peers. While normally developing children learn many social skills by imitating and observing others, toddlers with autism find it difficult to learn social skills in this way.

As a result of long-term studies, it is observed that some children with autism can reach a very good level in areas such as socializing, imaginary play skills, or playing group games, and even some toddlers with autism can enjoy the mentioned games or make friend choices.

Motor Development Characteristics of Toddlers with Autism

Children with autism have normal motor development. In these children who develop normally in terms of physical appearance, differences are observed in the development of motor skills compared to their normally developed peers. In terms of physical structure, although they seem to perform many skills in their normal time, the development of some skills is observed late.

The development of motor skills in toddlers with autism is generally close to their chronological age. These children may have trouble getting the movement done in series. Generally, deficiencies are observed in fine motor movements. Although toddlers with autism do the things they want to do quickly and skillfully, their movements may be disrupted and clumsy when asked to do things that don’t interest them.

Some toddlers with autism may have trouble learning to chew lumpy food, possibly because of their difficulties with co-ordinating chewing and swallowing muscles. Their food may need to be crushed and served. The development of basic movement skills is also important for the child to learn more complex behaviors. The development of these skills lays the groundwork for the development of other body movements and helps the acquisition of complex movements. Therefore, directing toddlers with autism to any branch of sports starting from preschool age will positively affect their motor development.

Other Main Autism Symptoms

  • They may suddenly lose a pre-existing ability. For example, a sudden decline in single-word communication can be observed when they can make sentences beforehand.
  • At a very young age, it may be seen that they prefer to be alone, not make friends, or play with peers. The important thing here is that the child does not complain about loneliness and prefers this situation.
  • They are overly committed to very strict routines. They overreact and stress when their routines are broken. By establishing an emotional bond with their routine, they do not allow it to be changed.
  • They tend to repeat the same words and expressions over and over. They can repeat the same words meaninglessly over and over. Likewise, they can copy behavior.
  • They are overly interested in repetitive movements. Movements such as flapping, swinging, and spinning is not a problem when children with autism are young, but their repeated repetition can be a big problem in the future.
  • They have tremendous trouble understanding the emotions of the people around them, they usually do not. They cannot communicate with the people around them and their emotions and generally fail to communicate.
  • They show extreme sensitivity to the senses. They show extreme reaction and sensitivity to basic senses such as sound, smell, taste, light, and touch. These reactions can be very intense and unexpected.
  • They may have difficulty speaking or a considerable delay may be observed in starting to speak compared to their peers.
  • They have limited interest. This can manifest itself as just playing with one toy and not being interested in others.

How Do You Understand Red Flags?

  • 6 months: Lack of smiling, inability to show happiness, not making eye contact.
  • 9 months: Not smiling, not communicating non-verbally, using meaningless voices for something, or trying to get attention, not being able to use correct voices and expressions when interacting with people.
  • 12 months: Not making an effort to communicate with the people around, not using facial expressions, not looking when called by name.
  • 16 months: Not speaking, not making effort for verbal communication, not learning words, not making sounds like words, not feeling willing to communicate.
  • 24 months: Having not started to speak despite the age of 2, not being able to communicate in one word and form sentences, saying half of the words.

Play Brainy Peg Toy Set – Exciting Montessori Style Learning Toy – Colorful Stacking Peg Board Toy for Toddlers & Preschoolers – Perfect for Color Recognition & Matching (30 Pegs)

It is a classic Montessori toy that is very helpful in terms of the development of toddlers with autism. With the help of this set, they may become able to recognize colors and shapes. There are 6 different colors in this set to be recognized by them. Your child will be very pleased with this set.

Mega Bloks First Builders Big Building Bag with Big Building Blocks, Toys for Toddlers (80 Pieces)

It is a very traditional toy. These building blocks easily get the attention of children with autism. They are especially perfect for little hands to grasp. Thanks to its bag come with it, you can teach your child to pick their toys up. It is easy to store with the help of this storage blue bag. Your child will enjoy a lot while playing with this set.

teytoy My First Soft Book, Nontoxic Fabric Baby Cloth Books Early Education Toys Activity Crinkle Cloth Book for Toddler, Infants, and Kids Perfect for Baby Shower -Pack of 6

With the help of this set of books, you can easily teach many important things to your toddlers with autism. These books are made of soft materials. Reading them gives parents a chance to create a bond with their babies. These books can be considered as an early development toy. They are a great way to stimulate important skills.

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