Today, as many as 1 in 100 children are diagnosed with autism. Autism signs can range from severely affected to mild. Autism is part of a larger group of disorders called autism spectrum disorders. In general, children affected by autism spectrum disorders have poor social skills, have deficits in verbal and non-verbal communication and show stereotypical, repetitive behaviors. Because early intervention is so important, learning how to recognize the early signs of autism is crucial for minimizing the long-term effects.
Since language development is often affected in children with autism, the first signs of autism often become apparent as a delay in speech development. Parents would expect some cooing or babbling sounds from their babies, so if this does not happen, it would be cause for concern. A lack of cooing or babbling could be the first sign of a delay in language development. An attentive pediatrician would be able to pick this up, but if he/she doesn't, then it is up to the parents to voice their concern. A typical early intervention approach would consist of speech therapy once or twice a week to address the delay in speech.
Young children with autism can also show signs of "echolalia", in which they mimmick the words or sounds they hear exactly and repetitively.
Other signs of autism in young children is the lack of engaging in simple games such as "peekaboo" or having an aversion of being touched. The preoccupation with certain objects or the lining up of toys could be a warning sign as well. Atypical motor behaviors such as hand flapping and jumping can be early signs of autism as well.
While autism symptoms vary between children, it is important to start early intervention as soon as possible in order to limit the long-term effects of autism. With the appropriate therapies to address difficulties in speech and sensory integration, many children with autism are able to function better and live better lives. While there are many different causes of autism, many parents have reported additional improvements in their children after switching to a casein and gluten-free diet.