The nature of autism as a spectrum disorder has created a big shift in the perception of our medical knowledge. Going through a review of its prognosis and symptoms leading to a qualified diagnosis, it is normal for people to get the impression that autism is a children’s disorder. Since most types of disorders in the spectrum are diagnosed at early infancy (from birth to less than 3 years of age) mainly because easily recognizable symptoms are starting to show, it has always been at the said age gap where autism is most likely detected. There are cases, however, when such symptoms are not highly noticeable even until the child has already reached a developmental milestone, which explains late diagnosis of autism in teens and adults. Still, the majority of autism cases still falls between ages 3 to 6 which explains why most support programs and treatment are focused on children rather than teens and adults, since high-functioning autism may require a different kind of treatment and approach.

How Children Exhibit Autism

Singling out a child with autism from the bunch would almost be impossible if you depend on your visual skills alone. That is because children with autism have appearances that are similar to that of normal ones. Like any other child, those suffering from autism can be incredibly smart or unintelligent, highly talkative or quiet, of peculiar traits or of aggressive behaviour. They may learn fast or slow, just like any other children that you know. This is only but a reflection of autism itself, as a spectrum disorder wherein a single behaviour or symptom is not really indicative of such diagnosis. However, there are also some common qualities that can be observed in autistic children that could lead to a qualified diagnosis specifically on the level of impairment or behavioural difference. The standard criterion is that such problems should be significant enough to greatly affect a child’s overall performance of simple tasks, impede learning and hamper the ability to socialize. So a timid child that’s not performing quite well in school, but can appropriately engage in conversation when needed and is able to comfortably live on a daily basis cannot be diagnosed with autism. The following situations will provide some insights on what autism in children would look like with respect to symptoms.

  • An autistic child always has difficulty socializing with others. This doesn’t mean, however, that autistic children cannot socialize at all. The difficulty lies in two extremes: being too passive and being too aggressive in their approach to socializing. There are cases of autistic children refusing to join groups and prefer spending time stacking up toys or spinning in circles, and there are also instances when autistic children would engage in conversations but would insist on becoming the leader of the talk and advance their own topic of interest with certain disregard of others’ opinion.
  • Speech challenges always seem to affect children with autism. There are a lot of indications of speech difficulties, some of which include speaking at a quick pace or on unnatural rhythm, memorization of familiarized phrases from TV or radio, speech delays, and repetition, as well as wrong usage of grammar deemed simple for their age.
  • Some behaviours are apparently different from established norms. Autistic children can’t easily adapt to a change in rules or a discontinuity of routines and they often show their rejection with extreme agitation or frustration. In the same manner, an outburst of emotions can suddenly occur due to very small reasons. There is also a clear pattern of repetition in both speech, action and even train of thought. The most dangerous exhibit of autistic behaviour is perhaps self-harm which can happen in some cases.
  • Autistic children have poor motor coordination and sometimes, awkward movement. Stimming is a common indicator of autism in children, and also one of the most observable symptoms. It includes rocking, hand flapping, and excessive blinking, all of which can be different compared to normal mannerisms a child does (thumb sucking and nail biting). Clumsiness, awkward walking (stiff hands on each side) and running at an unusual pace are also indications of autism in children.
  • Abnormal craving and reactions to sensory inputs are also common in autistic children. They may either suffer from sensory offensiveness or the unusual craving for sensory input which makes them feel like they can’t get enough of the taste, smell, feel and sound of things. On the contrary, they can also become very distressed from loud noises, strong odour or taste, and bright lights. They can also react to almost unnoticeable movements and sound, and get easily distracted by such.
  • Tantrums of autistic children are different in nature. When normal children tantrum, it is typically in order to get what they want or to tell that they are hungry or sleepy. Autistic children, however, make tantrums to show that they are frustrated, overwhelmed by something, or want to communicate a need but don’t know how to do it.


The Need for Early Detection of Autism in Children

It is absolutely necessary for parents and guardians to detect autism symptoms the soonest possible time so that it would lead to early diagnosis and treatment. It is mainly because early and intensive interventions have shown great positive effects on the condition of autistic children, even to the point where they can manage to engage in school and community activities. It also becomes easier for parents to understand the nature and extent of their child’s condition, enabling them to handle behavioural issues at home along with other challenges, and come up with the best possible solutions for their child’s care especially in choosing the right program or treatment. When it comes to financial support, schools and other agencies offer families free services on a set of programs and treatment while some health insurance companies also include autism treatment in the coverage. Non-profit organizations are also there to hold programs for families who are in need of a support network and a community that they can share sentiments and experiences with.