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Autism Speaks Puzzle Piece Fundraiser

Autism Symptoms in Children

Autism Spectrum disorder (ASD) can appear different in different people. It is a developmental disability that affects the way people communicate, behave, or socialize with others. There's no single cause for it, and symptoms can be very mild or very severe.

Some kids who are on the spectrum begin showing signs as young as a few months old. Other people seem to have normal development for the first couple of months or years of their lives and then they start showing symptoms. |}

However, up to half of parents of children with ASD noticed issues by the time Their child attained 12 weeks, and between 80% and 90% noticed problems by 2 decades. Children with ASD will have symptoms throughout their lives, but it's possible for them to get better as they get older.


The autism
|} Spectrum is extremely wide. Some people might have quite noticeable issues, others might not. The common thread is differences in social skills, communication, and behavior compared with individuals that aren't on the spectrum.

While autism Is normally a lifelong condition, all children and adults benefit from interventions, or remedies, that can reduce symptoms and increase skills and abilities. Although it is best to begin intervention when possible, the benefits of treatment can continue throughout life. {

Potential signs of autism at any age:

Avoids eye contact and prefers to be alone
Struggles with understanding other people's feelings
Remains nonverbal or has delayed language development
Repeats words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
Gets upset by minor changes in routine or environment
Has highly restricted interests
Performs repetitive behaviors such as flapping, rocking or spinning
Has unusual and often intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lighting and/or colors Social Skills |}

A child with ASD has a hard time interacting with others. Problems with Social skills are a few of the most common signs. {He might want to have close relationships but not know how. |}

If your he is 8 to 10 months old. |} These may include any of the following:

He can't respond to his name by his first birthday.
Playing, sharing, or talking with other people doesn't interest him. {
He prefers to be alone.
He avoids or rejects physical contact.
When he's upset, he doesn't like to be comforted.
He doesn't know emotions -- his own or others'.



About 40% of
|} Children with autism spectrum disorders don't talk in any way, and between 25% and 30% develop some language abilities during infancy but then lose them afterwards. Some children with ASD start talking later in life.

Most have Some problems with communication, including these:

Delayed speech and language skills
Flat, robotic speaking voice, or singsong voice
Echolalia (repeating the same phrase over and over)
Problems with pronouns (saying"you" instead of"I," for example)
Not using or infrequently using shared gestures (pointing or waving), rather than reacting to them
Inability to remain on topic when talking or answering questions
Not recognizing sarcasm or joking {

Patterns of Behavior

Children With ASD also behave in ways that seem unusual or have interests that are not typical. {Examples of this can include:

Repetitive behaviors such as hand-flapping, rocking, jumping, or twirling
Constant moving and"hyper" behavior
Fixations on certain activities or objects
Specific routines or rituals (and getting upset when a pattern is changed, even slightly)
Extreme sensitivity to touch, light, and noise
Not taking part in"make-believe" play or imitating others' behaviours
Fussy eating habits
Lack of coordination, clumsiness
Impulsiveness (acting without thinking)
Aggressive behavior, both with self and others
Short attention span |}{

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Spotting Signs and Symptoms

The earlier Treatment for autism spectrum disorder begins, the more like it is to succeed. That's why knowing how to recognize the symptoms and signs is so vital.

Make an Appointment with your child's pediatrician if he doesn't meet these particular developmental milestones, or if he meets but loses them later on:

Smiles by 6 months
Imitates facial expressions or noises by 9 months
Coos or babbles by 12 months
Gestures (waves or points ) by 14 months
Speaks with single words by 16 months and uses phrases of 2 words or more by 24 months
Plays pretend or"make-believe" by 18 months {

Social Challenges

Typically developing infants are social by nature. They gaze at faces, turn toward voices, grasp a finger and also smile by 2 to 3 months of age. By contrast, most children who develop autism have difficulty engaging in the give-and-take of everyday human interactions. |} By 8 to 10 weeks of age, many babies who go on to develop autism are showing some symptoms such as failure to respond to their names, reduced interest in people and delayed babbling. By toddlerhood, many children with autism have trouble playing social games, don't imitate the actions of others and prefer to play alone. They may fail to seek comfort or respond to parents' displays of anger or affection in normal ways


Research Suggests that children with autism are attached to their parents. However the way they express this attachment can be unusual. To parents, it may seem like their child is disconnected. Both children and adults with autism also tend to have trouble interpreting what others are thinking and feeling. Subtle social cures such as a smile, wave or grimace may convey little meaning. To a man who misses these social cues, a statement like"Come here!" May mean the same thing, regardless of whether the speaker is smiling and extending her arms for a hug or frowning and planting her fists on her hips. |} Without the ability to interpret gestures and facial expressions, the social world can seem bewildering.

Many persons With autism have similar difficulty seeing things from another person's perspective. Most five year olds understand that other individuals have different thoughts, feelings and goals than they have. A person with autism may lack such understanding. |} This, in turn, can interfere with the ability to predict or understand another person's actions. |}

It is common -- although not universal -- for those with autism to have difficulty regulating emotions. This can take the form of seemingly"immature" behavior such as crying or with outbursts in inappropriate situations. In addition, it can lead to disruptive and physically aggressive behavior. The inclination to"lose control" may be particularly pronounced in unfamiliar, overwhelming or frustrating situations. Frustration can also result in self-injurious behaviors such as head banging, hair pulling or self-biting.


Communication Difficulties

By age three, most children have passed predictable milestones on the path to learning language. Among the earliest is babbling. By the first birthday, most typically developing toddlers say a word or two, turn and look when they hear their names, point to objects they want or want to reveal to someone (not all cultures use pointing in this manner ). When offered something distasteful, they can make clear -- by sound or expression -- that the answer is"no."

By contrast, Young children with autism have a tendency to be delayed in babbling and speaking and learning how to use gestures. {Some infants who later develop autism coo and babble during the first few months of life before losing these communicative behaviors. |} Other people undergo significant language delays and don't start to speak until much later. With therapy, however, most individuals with autism do learn to use spoken language and all can learn how to communicate.

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Many Nonverbal or almost nonverbal children and adults learn how to use communication systems such as images (picture at left), sign language, electronic word processors or even speech-generating devices.

When Language begins to develop, the person with autism may use speech in unusual ways. Some have trouble combining words into meaningful sentences. They may speak only single words or repeat the exact same phrase again and again.

Some mildly Affected children exhibit only slight delays in language or perhaps create precocious language and unusually large vocabularies -- yet have difficulty sustaining a conversation. Some children and adults with autism tend to carry on monologues on a favorite subject, giving others little chance to comment. To put it differently, the normal"give and take" of dialogue proves difficult. Some children with ASD with superior language skills tend to speak like little professors, failing to pick up on the"kid-speak" that is common among their peers.

Another Common difficulty is the inability to understand body language, tone of voice and expressions that are not supposed to be taken literally. |} By way of instance, even an adult with autism might interpret a sarcastic"Oh, that is just great!" As meaning it really is terrific.

Conversely, someone affected by autism may not exhibit typical body language. Facial expressions, movements and expressions may not match what they're saying. Their tone of voice may fail to reflect their feelings. Some utilize a sub-par sing-song or a flat, robot-like voice. This can make it difficult for others know what they want and need. This failed communication, in turn, can cause frustration and inappropriate behavior (such as screaming or grabbing) on the part of the person with autism. Fortunately, there are proven techniques for helping children and adults with autism learn better ways to express their needs. As the person with autism learns to communicate what he or she desires, challenging behaviors often subside.


Repetitive Behaviors

Unusual Repetitive behaviors and/or a propensity to engage in a restricted range of activities are another core symptom of autism. Common repetitive behaviors include hand-flapping, rocking, jumping and twirling, arranging and rearranging objects, and repeating sounds, words, or phrases. |} Sometimes the repetitive behavior is self-stimulating, such as wiggling fingers in front of the eyes.

The tendency To engage in a restricted range of activities can be seen in the way that many children with autism play with toys. Some spend hours lining up toys in a particular way instead of using them for pretend play. Similarly, some adults are preoccupied with having family or other objects in a fixed order or location. {It can prove extremely upsetting if someone or something disrupts the order. |} Along these lines many children and adults with autism need and require extreme consistency in their environment and daily routine. {Slight changes can be extremely stressful and lead to outbursts


Repetitive Behaviors can take the form of intense preoccupations, or obsessions. These extreme interests can prove even more peculiar for their content (e.g. fans, vacuum cleaner or bathrooms ) or depth of knowledge (e.g. knowing and repeating astonishingly detailed information about Thomas the Tank Engine or astronomy). Older children and adults with autism may develop enormous interest in symbols, numbers, dates or science topics.


Associated Medical Conditions

Thanks to related to ASD. |} {You can explore these studies here. |} This research is reflected in the comprehensive care model at the center of our Autism Treatment Network(ATN) clinics. |} To discover if there's an ATN clinic close to you, click here. For in depth information on medical conditions, please see our website's related pages:"Remedies for Associated Medical Conditions" and"What Treatments are Available for Speech, Language and Motor Impairments," along with the information below.

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Genetic Disorders

Some Children with autism have an identifiable genetic condition which affects brain development. While further study is required, single gene disorders appear to affect 15 to 20 percent of those with ASD. Some of these syndromes have characteristic features or family histories, the presence of which might prompt your physician to consult with a geneticist or neurologist for further testing. The results can help guide treatment, awareness of associated medical issues and life planning.

Gastrointestinal {(GI) Disorders


GI distress These conditions range in severity from a tendency for chronic diarrhea or constipation to inflammatory bowel disease. Pain caused by GI issues can prompt behavioral changes such as increased self calming (rocking, head banging, etc) or outbursts of aggression or self-injury. Alternately, proper treatment can improve behavior and quality of life. Please see our treatment section on"Gastrointestinal Disorders." It includes discussion of nutritional supplements that are popular. Thanks to donor assistance, Autism Speaks has been fund research into causes and remedies .

Seizure Disorders

Seizure It is more common in people with autism who also have intellectual disability than those without. Someone with autism may experience more than one type of seizure. The easiest to recognize is the grand mal, or tonic-clonic, seizure. Others include"petit mal" seizures (when a person temporarily seems"absent") and subclinical seizures, which might be apparent only with electroencephalogram (EEG) testing.

Seizures Associated with autism tend to begin in either early childhood or adolescence. But they might occur at any time. If you are worried that you or your child might be having seizures, it is important to raise the matter with your physician for possible referral to a neurologist for further evaluation.

Sleep Dysfunction

Sleep Problems are common among children and teens with disabilities and might likewise affect many adults. To find out more and helpful advice, see our ATN Sleep Strategies Tool Kit (available for free download).

Sensory {Processing Problems


Many persons with autism have unusual responses to sensory input. They have difficulty processing and integrating sensory information, or stimuli, such as sights, sounds smells, tastes and/or motion. They may experience seemingly ordinary stimuli as painful, unpleasant or confusing. (Explore our donor-funded study on causes and remedies here.)

Some of Those with autism are hypersensitive to sounds or touch, a condition also known as sensory defensiveness. Others are under-responsive, or hyposensitive. An instance of hypersensitivity are the inability to tolerate wearing clothes, being touched or being in a room with normal lighting. Hyposensitivity can include failure to react when one's name is called. Many sensory processing problems can be addressed with work-related therapy or sensory integration treatment. (More info on these therapies, here.)


Pica is a Tendency to consume things that are not food. Eating non-food things is a normal part of development between the ages of 18 and 24 months. However, some children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities continue to eat items such as dirt, clay, chalk or paint chips. Because of this, it is important to check for elevated blood levels of lead in those who persistently mouth fingers or objects which may be contaminated with this common environmental toxin.

For more Resources and information, please see our Video Glossary and FAQs and special sections on Diagnosis, Learn the Signs, Remedy , Your Child's Rights, Asperger Syndrome and PDD-NOS. |} lots of resource-packed tool kits for free download (here and here). |} They comprise our 100 Day Kit for families that have a child recently diagnosed with autism.