Autism Awareness

Since it is autism awareness month, I thought I should shed some light on behaviors and difficulties associated with children who have autism. The following is a list of milestones that these children may have difficulty achieving:

3-4 months

Children should follow moving objects with their eyes, watch faces with interest, and turn toward a sound.

7 months

Children should respond to their names, respond to the emotions of others, enjoy face-to-face play, and babble in chains of sound.

12 months/1 year

Children should imitate sounds and use single words, use simple gestures like pointing, and find hidden objects.

2 years

Children should combine 2 words to communicate, have names for familiar people and favorite toys, and follow simple directions.

3 years

Children should be openly affectionate and use make believe to play.

4 years

Children should begin telling stories, use colors and count.

See autismspeaks.com for more information on developmental milestones.

Children with autism typically have difficulty with social interactions, including communication. These children are often not interested in other people and use poor eye contact. It has been described as if the child appears to be looking around you or past you as you are speaking to him. They will often grab your hand to move you toward objects they want. For example, they may grab your hand and put it on a container of Play-Doh so that you open it, or put your hand on a book to get you to read it.

Children with autism engage in what is known as echolalia. They will often repeat words and sentences rather than making their own sentences. When asked questions, they often will repeat the question rather than answering it. This is especially true if they do not know the answer to the question. Their intonation is sometimes flat and they do not change their pitch to match the mood of the sentence or for asking questions.

Another behavior seen in children with autism is self-stimulatory behaviors and hand flapping. This behavior is seen in many children before 2 years old, but when it persists, it is often a sign of autism.

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