It is estimated that 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with being on the autism spectrum.
While boys are diagnosed almost three times more often than girls this is sometimes because of the different ways that each copes with the symptoms and difficulties they face.
Many children are diagnosed before reaching school age but there are many more who have gone through their childhood without a proper diagnosis or being assessed by a medical professional who is an autism specialist.
The stats on autism have continued to rise since 1992 (1 in 150 children were diagnosed with autism) due to greater resources, more awareness and better access to diagnostic processes and appropriate experts.
How do you know if you or your loved one would benefit from an appointment and assessment for autism?
Keep reading to learn 7 signs your family member should visit an autism specialist today.
Early Signs an Autism Specialist Could Help
There are many different signs and symptoms of autism that may cause concern early in life development.
The spectrum has such a wide range of presenting issues and signs with a wide range of degrees of severity. Some infants may present with noticeable delays in reaching milestones or difficulties interacting in an expected manner for their age.
Others may have more subtle signs that can learn to be compensated for or excused away without caregivers realizing there may be some cause for investigation.
Many infants with autism will show traits or signs that could raise red flags that there might be a reason for further testing to determine if the child may be on the autism spectrum.
More than 30% of children on the autism spectrum also have intellectual disabilities that may be the cause of the initial concern. There are more than half of those presenting on the spectrum who have above average intelligence, so one’s intellectual ability is not a reliable indicator of the possibility.
Missed or Delayed Milestones
In infancy and early childhood, there may be very noticeable delays in reaching milestones such as talking, walking, and social interaction.
Some of these early signs may include:
- Does not smile or make eye contact by six months
- No verbal social communication such as cooing and babbling by a year
- Not saying one or two words by the age of 18- and 24- months.
- Not responding or interacting to sounds, voices, or their own name
- Minimal interest in items or interactions with others
- May fixate and become overly attached to one item for extended periods
- Atypical body movements and
There is also cause for concern is a child reaches milestones such as these but later regresses to an early age. This may include intellectual or social milestone or physical abilities such as walking, active play, self-care, potty training, and other activities of daily living.
Social Interaction Challenges
A person who may be on the autism spectrum will most likely find social situations and interactions to be more challenging than an individual who is neurotypical.
These difficulties may include:
- Trouble or inability to start conversations or social interaction
- Scripted and mimicked phrases
- Poor eye contact
- Inability or difficulty understanding social and physical or verbal cues
- Dislike or Difficulty handling physical touching such as hugs, handshakes, etc
- Challenges using imagination or atypical methods of play
- Difficulty handling changes in schedule or plan
- Not physically or emotionally affectionate
While some of these may be immediately obvious as a child grows, other children are able to adapt and compensate for their differences in social interaction. There are many factors that influence whether a child is diagnosed early or perhaps doesn’t get diagnosed at all.
Caregiver education and awareness as well as more medical training, understanding, and education for medical professionals in regards to autism spectrum and how to diagnose it has led to earlier diagnosis and intervention than ever before.
There are still hundreds of thousands of adults or older children who have slipped through the medical cracks and gone without intervention, diagnosis, and proper support because they didn’t have an assessment while younger.
Adults and the Autism Spectrum
While awareness has risen in recent decades and more children are recognized as being on the autism spectrum today than ever before, there are millions who are already adults that have never been assessed or received the supports and resources needed.
Many of the difficulties for adults, who have not been previously diagnosed, are social interaction challenges that they have learned to compensate for on their own. Some have been misdiagnosed with an intellectual or developmental delay or disability due to a lack of autism spectrum awareness for individuals and medical professionals in the past.
An adult on the autism spectrum will develop coping mechanisms to adjust their behavior to appear more neurotypical. Things such as staring at a person’s nose or forehead to appear as though they are making eye contact or avoid going places or wearing materials that overstimulate their senses.
Some adults on the autism spectrum are able to function without noticeable difficulty interacting or completing activities of daily living whereas other individuals on the autism spectrum may require emotional, physical or medical support for their entire lives.
Early Intervention Is Key
The earlier a person is assessed and diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, the earlier they can receive the supports and assistance they need. This will help the individual and their families to be better prepared for daily life and the future.
An autism assessment can be done by medical professionals who focus on and specialize in autism spectrum diagnosis and care plan development such as those at Blue Sprig Autism.
There are support and therapy options to make the challenges of living on the autism spectrum easier but they can’t help if an assessment isn’t done to implement the support needed.
Behavior therapy, educational supports, medical, physical, occupational and psychological supports are available when an individual is identified as being on the autism spectrum.
People with autism become doctors, teachers, scientists, artists, and anything else they may dream of being. Just like someone who is neurotypical, reaching their goals will be a lot easier with the right support, resources, and encouragement around them.
An Autism Specialist Can Ease Your Worry
If you think that you or a family member is on the autism spectrum and haven’t been assessed by an autism specialist then you should get one done and ease the worry.
The fear of the unknown can be paralyzing but with the help of an autism specialist the right resources, care, and support can be available to get you and your loved one on the road to a healthy and happy life whether it’s one on the spectrum or not.
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