Recognizing autism symptoms is important for parents and other caregivers because symptoms of autism are usually apparent during the first 3 years of age.
What Is Autism?
Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) that affects as many as 1 in 88 children, and is marked by impaired communication and poor social engagement.
Autism falls under an umbrella of conditions generally referred to as autism spectrum disorders, which include PDD's.
Pervasive Developmental Disorders include Asperger's syndrome, Rett syndrome, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, which all fall under the autism spectrum.
Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Learning Disabilities (LD) are also more likely to suffer from autism.
Symptoms of autism can range from mild to severe, but typically include children not wanting to be held, delays in language acquisition/verbal expression, inability to pick up on social cues, poor social interaction/inability to make friends or play with others, lack of empathy, repeating certain phrases (echolalia), preoccupation with certain topics, fixating on certain objects/toys, fixation with keeping the same routine, stereotypical autistic behaviors such repeated rocking back and forth, hand flapping, etc.
Early Autism Signs
Children with autism often fail to meet developmental milestones such as "babbling" by 12 months of age, gesturing/pointing/waving bye-bye by 12 months of age, or speaking simple words by 16 months of age.
Conversely, many children with autism appear to develop normally but then regress and seem to lose their language and communication skills.
If You Recognize The Above Symptoms
Because the autism spectrum disorders can be confused with one another due to their similar symptomology, get your child assessed by a mental health professional or medical professional who is expert in diagnosing PDD's.
This can include chid psychiatrists, child psychologists, neurologists, and developmental pediatricians.
Since autism can be mild to severe, the prognosis varies depending on the individual and the severity of the condition.
Prognosis For Children
With treatment, most children with autism can improve their ability to communicate, relate to others, and learn to take care of themselves. Severe cases, however, often require the specialized care found in group homes, special schools, etc.
Prognosis For Adults
Adult outcomes for those with autism also depends upon the severity of the condition, IQ, and ability to communicate. Many can live independently within the community, while severe cases require more specialized care.