Autism is a complex neuro-developmental disorder with biological roots thought to be present at birth which continues through adulthood.
- Autism is characterised by language delays or other communication problems, poor or limited social skills and repetitive, rigid and other unusual behaviours.
- Autism refers to a spectrum of disorders, with a wide range of symptoms that vary from mild to severe.
- Once considered a rare disorders, today autism is estimated to affect as many as 1 in 150 children.
- A significant number of symptoms of autism are present by 18 months of age, or even earlier. However, children are typically not diagnosed until 3 to 4 years of age or later.
- Research indicates that early identification and intervention can result in significant positive outcomes for many children with autism.
By 4 Months of Age
- Does not make eye contact or makes little eye contact.
- Does not seem interested in other people.
- Does not react by looking at people when they are making social sounds such as humming or clapping.
- Does not show as much interest in people as they do towards objects.
- Does not have a social smile.
- Does not show interest in watching other people's faces.
By 12 Months of Age
- Does not combine eye contact with smiling.
- Does not babble.
- Does not look at objects that other person is looking at.
- Does not try to engaged other people in what s/he is looking at or doing.
- Does not follow a person's eye contact when the person points out an object and says "look at the airplane", etc.
- Does not engage in back and fourth gestures (sharing or showing toys).
- Does not respond when name is called.
- Does not point the index finger.
- Does not show a caring or concerned reaction to other people crying.
- Does not use gestures such as waving hi or bye.
By 24 Months of Age
- Does not point to share interests with others, such as pointing to an airplane, etc.
- Does not imitate activities of others such as pretend play activities.
- Does not develop pretend or make believe play.
- Does not use single words by 16 months; no two words spontaneous phrases ("go car" or "look doggie").
Other Developmental Skills
- May develop language and or social skills normally and then lose some or all of these skills.
- Has repetitive body movements (hand flapping and spinning).
- Fixates upon a single object such as a spoon or a book.
- Can't tolerate change in routine environment such as a replacement for a lost toy.
- Has over-sensitivity to texture, lights and/or sounds.
- Has delayed motor skills (late walking, riding a tricycle or learning to jump).
- Prefers to play alone or does not interact with peers as expected, such as asking for friends to come over, playing together or taking turns.
- Lines items up or puts things in order repeatedly.
- Has excessive tantrums and is difficult to console.
- Walks on tiptoes.
- May not enjoy cuddling or being touched unless it is on own terms.
- Tone of voice does not always reflect emotions.
- Uses formal speech sounding like a "little professor".
- Repetitive question-asking.
- Dominates conversations and doesn't engage in dialogue.
- Unique and immature sense of humor.