Autism in Toddlers

Autism is a serious developmental and neurobiological malformation. It is characterized by an apparently mild to severe social-absorption (exclusion of everything else other than oneself), late development of language skills and noticeable disinterest in social and emotional reciprocity; meaning, individuals are apt to develop a solitary attitude towards enjoyment.

This apparent withdrawal to society is not deliberately true in all circumstances but its frequency is reduced as compared with children who are normal and are not diagnosed with any other disorder.

Increase in Autism

It affects millions of American children and it can last a lifetime but given the appropriate educational treatment, the many symptoms may be visibly improved or reduced, in most cases eliminated.

According to data in an article published in the monthly journal Pediatrics, from 1991 to 1997 alone there was a startling 556% increased incidence of autism among children and what is most alarming is that, parents failed to recognize such disorder until children reached their toddler age.

The vital information gathered in a number of researches for this disease lead to the identification of children suffering from this serious disorder and the number is steadily increasing.

Symptoms

There are many symptoms that perfectly describes a child having this developmental disability but many of these symptoms arent recognized until the child reach the toddler age.

This is because the many symptoms become apparent and as the children with such disorder begin displaying actions which does not conform to individuals his age. They are bereft of social and intrapersonal skills and are apt to enjoy play activities alone.

Some may even show a sudden shift of mood from inattentiveness to aggressiveness. But some shows some degree of awareness to their environment but with less frequency.

Checklists

There were a number of checklists created to somehow test a child if they are likely candidate for autism. Simon Baron-Cohen of Britain in an article in The British Journal of Psychiatry [abstract] developed a useful one, which solicits information on how your a respond to the questions outlined in the checklist.

Several critical questions were marked to provide clues to behaviors which specifically identify individuals who are more likely manifesting such behavioral disorder. The checklists solicit information both from parents and the pediatrician.

For parents, “yes” to questions such as, “does your child ever pretend, for example, to make a cup of tea using a toy cup and teapot, or pretend other things (pouring juice)?,” and “does your child ever use his or her index finger to point, to indicate interest in something?” are just some of the key questions in identifying children afflicted by this complex behavioral-social-neurological infirmity.

After conducting a series of interviews and questionnaires from parents, the pediatrician will usually conduct his or her own tests and observations to confirm observations gathered from the parents.

These are just some of the guide questions pediatricians used to making their own conclusions when identifying patients with this disability:

Visual exploration: Get the child’s attention, then point across the room at an interesting object and say, “Oh Look! Theres a (name of a toy)!” Watch the childs face. Does the child look across to see what you are pointing at? (The child should be pointing at the object and not you nor your hand)

Role Playing: Get the child’s attention, then give the child a miniature toy cup and teapot and say, “Can you make a cup of tea?” Does the child pretend to pour out tea and drink it?

Direct address: Say to the child, “Wheres the light?” or “Show me the light.” Does the child point with their index finger at the light? (You may also try pointing to some unreachable objects)

These and other educational methods helps in the determination of a child who is suspected of showing signs related to Autism and other related disorders.

It is also important to realize that early diagnosis of this behavioral disability allows parents to tailor their parenting according to the care needed by children afflicted with this severe disorder.