Autism In Toddlers: All You Need To Know

Autism In Toddlers: All You Need To Know

1 Apr 2022 | 4 min Read

Sayani Basu

Author | 320 Articles

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that begins in the first few years after birth. It is a developmental condition related to brain development that can affect how a person behaves, interacts, and communicates.

It also includes limited and repetitive patterns of behaviour.

Healthcare professionals have used the term ‘autism spectrum disorder’ because autism is a spectrum that refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity.

Those with mild ASD are fully functional in their daily lives. While, having severe forms of ASD may require ongoing care and support for the entire lives.

The early diagnosis enables parents (of autistic children) to begin communication, social, and sensory therapies that are crucial to the child’s development. This in turn can help improve an autistic child’s development, language, and interactive skills.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism is diagnosed more often in boys than in girls.

Here’s a guide to identify autism in a toddler. Read on to know more.

Signs and Symptoms Of Autism

An austic child often prefers to stay alone, retreating into his/ her own world. | Image Source: pixabay

Some of the symptoms of autism in toddlers are:

Social Communication and Interaction

  • Fails to respond to his/ her name
  • Resists cuddling and seems to prefer playing alone, retreating into their own world
  • Lacks facial expression and has poor eye contact
  • Doesn’t speak or has delayed speech
  • Speaks with an abnormal tone and may use a sing-song voice or robot-like speech
  • Repeats words or phrases verbatim, but doesn’t understand how to use these words
  • Doesn’t bring objects to share interest
  • Doesn’t understand simple questions or directions
  • Doesn’t express emotions or feelings
  • Inappropriately approaches a social interaction by being aggressive
  • Has difficulty recognizing non-verbal cues, such as interpreting other people’s facial expressions, body postures or tone of voice

Behaviour Patterns

  • Performs repetitive movements, such as spinning, rocking, or hand-flapping
  • Performs activities that could cause self-harm like biting or head-banging
  • Develops specific routines and becomes disturbed at the slightest change
  • Has problems with coordination or has odd movement patterns, such as clumsiness or walking on toes
  • Is fascinated by details of an object, such as the spinning wheels of a toy car, but doesn’t understand the purpose or function of the object
  • Unusually sensitive to light, sound or touch
  • Fixates on an object or activity with extreme intensity or focus
  • Has specific food preferences

Causes of Autism

According to researchers, as autism has several characteristics, it might have different causes.

  • Genetics
  • Chromosomal conditions like tuberous sclerosis or fragile X syndrome
  • Certain medications taken during pregnancy like thalidomide and valproic acid
  • Being born to older parents and low birth weight
  • Loss of oxygen during birth
  • Born to mums with diabetes and obesity
  • Immune disorders, metabolic conditions, and brain connectivity differences

In addition to these, babies born before 26 weeks of gestation might have a greater risk of this disorder.

However, research into the causes of autism is still ongoing.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Autism

Sometimes, ASD can be noticeable from birth, usually the lack of linguistic and social abilities surface after a year or two.

The sooner autism is diagnosed, the sooner you can help your little one cope with the disorder.

Diagnosis of autism involves:

  • Several screenings
  • Genetic tests
  • Evaluations

According to the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), an austic child undergoes ASD screening at the age of 18 to 24 months.

Screening can help identify ASD in children earlier than later and they may benefit from early diagnosis and support. Other screening tools for autism include the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT).

The doctor might recommend a combination of tests for autism, including:

  • DNA testing for genetic diseases
  • Visual and audio tests to identify any issues with vision and hearing that aren’t related to ASD
  • Behavioural evaluation and occupational therapy screening

Some of the therapies of autism that can be useful are:

  • Cognitive behavioural and behaviour management therapies
  • Joint attention therapy
  • Social skills training
  • Physical and speech therapies
  • Occupational and nutrition therapies
  • Medication and educational interventions
Although austic children usually don’t outgrow the symptoms of autism, they might learn to function well. | Image Source: pixabay

There is no way to prevent autism. However, treatment of autism spectrum disorder can be useful. Early diagnosis and intervention are helpful and can improve behaviour, skills and language development. 

Although austic children usually don’t outgrow the symptoms of autism, they might still learn to function well.

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