Early Signs of Autism

Autism is a qualitative difference in relating and communicating.  The Autistic child can relate and communicate but does so uniquely according to their individual differences.  In addition, many children with Autism experience fluctuations in intensity of processing sensations in their daily experience. Sometimes sensory input can be overwhelming and too much and sometimes more sensory input is needed to register a sensation.  Some children experience a mix of highs and lows in sensory processing.   It is important to pay attention to a child's response to sensory information because it impacts a child's ability to regulate and remain in a calm alert state so they can take in the world.  The most important thing a parent can do is to remain calm and seek to comfort and understand your child's individual differences.   It is also important to see help from your pediatrician, because an early diagnosis is key to getting the type of intervention that will best meet your child's needs.  Below I have listed some early signs of Autism and have included a link for the CSBS-DP which is a checklist that will help you determine whether or not your child may be at risk for an Autism Spectrum Disorder or social communication challenges.

In the FIrst Year

    Will not make eye contact
    Will not respond to parent’s voice
    Will notpoint
    Will not respond to their name
    Will not smile or laugh in response to others behavior

    Rarely smiles
    Rarely tries to imitate sounds and movements
    Babbling is delayed or infrequent
    Does not use gestures to communicate by 18 months.
    Rarely seeks attention
    Repeatedly stiffens arms, hands or legs, or uncommon postures
    Delays in motor development




10 ways to engage your child

You are the most important person in your child's life.  Your child will learn to relate and communicate from you.  If your child has an Autism Spectrum Disorder, you may need to adjust your interaction style to accommodate your child's individual differences.  If you would like support and coaching in this area, I am a Speech Therapist Trained in DIR ®Floortime andProject Impact andcan assist you in discovering how to connect to your child in a meaningful way. In early intervention, the most effective Speech Therapy is parent coaching because the parent is with the child throughout the day and the child is more likely to absorb the nuances of relating and communicating in the context of meaningful daily routines. As you select a routine like meal time, book time, play time, bath time, etc. think about your child. What makes your child feel calm and supported, what is upsetting and what do you notice that your child gravitates toward.  Being a good observer can help you identify supportive strategies for your child.  When a child is in a calm alert state, they are ready to relate and communicate.  Here are a few strategies you might find useful.

1. Observe your child to see what they are interested in.  Notice their activity level, interests and their affect.

2. Follow your child's interest by slowly joining and taking an emotional interest in what they are doing.

3. Imitate with intention and joy, what the child is doing. Pay attention to their non verbal cues, gestures, gaze and affect.

4. WAIT up to 10 seconds for your child to respond to give them time to process and initiate.

5. Allow your child to initiate and show their intention.

6. Amplify your own non verbal cues by adjusting your affect and gestures and using less language.

7. Create playful routines that have a calm and organizing rhythm.

8.  Once you have a regulating routine, gradually create drama by giving your child a problem to solve.  Wait longer, hide something, pretend you are not sure about what to do next.  Allow your child to try and pull you up for more swinging, or grab your hand for more tickles. Play the where's ______ ? complete with gestures.

9. Offer choices to allow your child to show you what they desire.

10. Have fun!!! Pleasurable interactions are emotionally uplifting for the parent and the child.  Pleasure creates strong and meaningful connections .   





                                                               Having Fun together is good for the soul!

                                                              Having Fun together is good for the soul!