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How do I know if my child has autism? 5 signs to look for

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  • 1 in 100 children in the world have autism. 
  • This condition has a variety of causes including genetics. 
  • Learn 5 signs of autism and how to recognize them.

What are the signs of autism? Autism spectrum disorder is a condition that affects, according to data from the World Health Organization, one in every hundred children in the world. An early diagnosis is key to fostering the physical, psychological and social development of those with autism, though sometimes it is not detected until later in life.

There are different types of autism and and they have varying symptoms. Therefore, it is important to know the most common signs of autism, in order to recognize when to consult your pediatrician.

5. Signs of autism: Avoiding eye contact

signs of autism

One of the most common signs of autism is avoiding eye contact, both making it and maintaining it for long periods. This does not happen in all cases of autism but if it is noticeable and is accompanied by other autism signs, it is best to consult a specialist.

Some people with autism avoid eye contact due to sensory overstimulation, as well as a difficulty processing the visual and auditory information in their environment. Sometimes keeping their attention fixed on a conversation or on a topic is also the result of a difficulty interpreting social cues or emotions.

4. Repetitive movements or «stimming»

games and repetitive movements

Repetitive movements or «stimming» is another sign of autism. It can involve any part of the body and is often a self-soothing behavior. The movements tend to be rhythmic and do not fulfill an obviously specific purpose.

These can include frequent hand waving, spinning objects, finger wiggles, and facial movements. Experts believe that many of these behaviors in people with autism are associated with a need for self-regulation to reduce the levels of anxiety and stress caused by social overstimulation.

3. Difficulty speaking

signs of autism

Not all people who have difficulties to speak are on the autism spectrum, nor do all people with autism have language problems. However, autism is often associated with speech regression, difficulty articulating words or phrases, a tendency to repeat words or an inability to understand verbal social cues.

For some people with autism, speech is not a problem, while for others it is a challenge to learn to use certain words in an appropriate context. In any case, there are therapeutic approaches that can allow those with autism to communicate effectively.

2. Behavior problems

signs of autism

Behavior problems can be occur in almost anyone at virtually any stage of life, but in the case of autism, behavior is key to diagnosing the condition. This is because ASD causes difficulties in communication, social interaction, and sensory regulation.

This sometimes leads to periods of frustration in your child cannot find a way to self-regulate or express what fears, frustrations or needs. Attention problems, hyperactivity, anxiety, self-harm, and physical or verbal aggression are common in certain cases of ASD.

1. Intense interest in certain topics

boy playing with dinosaur

It is normal to be interested in various topics throughout life, but they can become a fixation for those with autism. This symptom is often accompanied by other signs of ASD.

For people with autism, these interests can become a fundamental part of their days and can include music, animals, certain objects, favorite foods, superstitions, computers. The ability to delve deeply into their interests is one of the positive aspects of autism.

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