Autism or developmental features?
Last time, we talked about violations in the intellectual and emotional development of the child and what prerequisites provoke these violations. Perhaps one of the most controversial cognitive disorders is childhood autism.
At an early age, it is quite difficult to determine whether the child is developing correctly: why at the age of one and a half years he still does not say, why he does not respond to his own name and does not play with his peers, why is he so violently capricious and does not want to eat on his own? Should these warning signs be signs of autism?
Can it be argued that autism is accompanied by a developmental delay? Of course. But can we say that autists are mentally disabled children who will remain so for life? Of course no. Delay in development is just one of the symptoms of autism, which is far from the most characteristic and dangerous for the child.
What distinguishes autism symptoms from other developmental disorders in children? How to determine that the child has autism, and not one of the anxiety disorders or a simple delay in speech development? In this article, we describe the primary and secondary symptoms of childhood autism. At what age can autism in a child be detected, do the features of its development really indicate this disease, and what needs to be done if you are more and more convinced that your child is autistic?
Primary and secondary signs of autism
Autism or developmental features?
Autism has a lot of manifestations, but all of them, one way or another, are secondary and equally can report other neurological and personality disorders in the child. The first and only convincing sign of childhood autism is a violation or lack of contact with others. Other cognitive impairments that are attributed to autism, such as a delay in the development of speech or fine motor skills, sensitivity to sometimes unpredictable factors like food texture, may accompany the development of autism, but it is far from always pointing to it unequivocally.
How can parents understand that a violation of contact with others does not indicate autism if their child has not yet uttered a word while his peers are already exchanging uncomplicated remarks and still having difficulty moving around without assistance? What then is considered a lack of contact?
Firstly, it should be noted that contact is not always established and expressed verbally, that is, through sounds and words. The child can use other ways to communicate with others: for example, laugh when they play with him, look in the eyes when someone addresses him, respond to external stimuli (look at sounds, be afraid or, on the contrary, be interested in animals, to respond to your name, etc.) and gestures to indicate to parents what he needs at the moment.
If the child makes at least emotional contact, this means that suspicions of autism are unfounded. And the fact that at the same time he does not say anything out loud, may indicate a delay in speech development, which in turn can occur within the framework of the norm and not be a sign of autism.
And secondly, in order to be able to talk about any diagnosis in principle, the symptoms must manifest themselves in various circumstances – for example, in kindergarten and at home. If a child turned out to be unsociable and silent among his peers, and behaves absolutely naturally at home, this indicates his specific personal reaction to certain circumstances, his sensitivity and anxiety, which can also be painful, but not autism. That is, it is impossible to diagnose autism on the basis of only one situation and indirect signs: this would be an unfounded statement.
Disorders of fine motor skills in autism
Surely among your friends there are people who, say, for nothing in life, will be able to accurately and confidently hit the ball while playing football. You do not consider them autistic on this basis! Meanwhile, this indicates a violation of the gross motility inherent in autism. The same is with the child: the delay in speech development, problems in the formation of fine motor skills (it is difficult for him to climb and descend the stairs, he cannot bounce or does it awkwardly, cannot hold objects in his hands) can accompany the development of autism to the same extent are independent developmental disorders or the manifestation of one of many other neurological diseases. To diagnose autism, they must be considered in conjunction with its main symptom – lack of contact with others.
Another characteristic manifestation of autism is the child’s heightened tactile and auditory sensitivity, which sometimes takes on the most bizarre forms. For example, an autistic child may not like tight-fitting things – he will only wear spacious clothes. Or overalls disgust him – he is ready to wear only separate things.