If your child misses a milestone, it’s perfectly normal to question whether something more is at play. With rising awareness of autism, many wonder whether their child might be on the spectrum. While every child's development is unique, recognizing when it's time for a professional evaluation is crucial.
The multidisciplinary team at PediaPlex knows the concerns that parents face. We also know that early intervention can lead to better outcomes. It’s important to recognize the signs and know when to pursue an assessment. The following information about common signs that signal an autism evaluation is warranted.
A significant hallmark of autism is a delay or absence of communication skills. If your child struggles with verbal communication or doesn't respond to their name, it might signal a deeper issue. Children might also benefit from an evaluation if maintaining or starting a conversation is challenging.
Children with autism often display repetitive movements or actions, such as hand-flapping, rocking, or a strong fascination with certain stimuli. While some repetitive behaviors can be part of regular child play, persistent repetition is worth noting.
Observing your child’s behavior patterns and understanding their nuances can provide significant insights. If a child displays excessive repetition, it's valuable to consider a professional assessment.
Challenges with social interactions
Difficulties with social interaction are another potential sign of autism. A child might struggle with understanding social cues or avoid making eye contact. They might also demonstrate a preference for solitude over group activities.
While social challenges alone don't immediately signal autism, when they accompany other symptoms, they underscore the potential need for assessment. PediaPlex recognizes these intricacies in behavior and encourages parents to trust their observations.
Many children with autism have distinct sensory sensitivities. They might react intensely or not at all to certain sounds, textures, or lights. This hyper or hypo-sensitivity can be revealing of their unique sensory processing mechanisms.
Such reactions, especially if they're extreme, warrant attention. By understanding and noting these sensitivities, parents can make more informed decisions about seeking assessment.
Adherence to routines or rituals
Routine can be comforting, but for children on the spectrum, it can be paramount. They might insist on specific rituals or get visibly distressed if there's a slight change in their daily routine. This adherence can be more than just a child's preference for familiarity.
The importance of a routine paired with an aversion to changes can be telling. PediaPlex advises parents to notice such patterns as they can indicate underlying needs.
Narrow interest or fixations
It's normal for children to have favorite toys or subjects they love talking about. However, children with autism often have intense interest or fixation on specific topics or items.
This could range from an unusual fascination with a particular object, like spinning wheels, to a deep dive into subjects, like weather patterns or dinosaurs.
These fixations can serve as coping mechanisms or ways to stimulate their senses. While intense interests can be beneficial in some aspects, like fostering learning and skills, they can also limit their interactions or activities outside of that specific interest.
Understanding the balance and nature of these fixations can offer more context about the child's developmental needs. PediaPlex encourages parents to observe not just the interest, but the intensity and duration of such fixations.
Recognizing these signs early and trusting parental instincts is vital.
Scheduling a visit with your child’s pediatrician for an autism screening is the best place to start if you have concerns that your child may have an autism spectrum disorder. Your pediatrician provides a referral for an assessment if your child shows some signs of autism.
Once your child has a formal diagnosis or a referral for assessment, our multidisciplinary team of behavioral analysis therapists, occupational and speech therapists work together to execute an individualized treatment plan to support your child in meeting their developmental goals.
To learn more, contact the office nearest you to set-up an appointment. We have three locations: Southlake, Fort Worth, and Frisco, Texas.