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    Early Signs of Autism

    By: Zahava Pollak, OTS

    Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong condition which can affect children in various ways, and the severity and symptoms are unique to each individual case. Autism is generally detected in children before they are three years old, however it is possible for a child to be initially misdiagnosed and later be found to display more clear ASD symptoms. Autistic children have difficulty communicating with others, interacting in a socially appropriate manner and understanding the world around them. Some telltale signs of autism include a delay or regression with speech. Statistics show that 40% of people with autism do not talk. Another sign is difficulty understanding nonverbal language such as social cues, body language and vocal qualities (pitch, tone and volume).  Children with autism also have trouble with change. They often get fixated on doing things at a certain time or in a certain way. Additionally, they may display repetitive behaviors, such as hand-flapping or spinning in one place for a long period of time. Autistic children often do not interact with others (adults or children) and prefer to play or sit by themselves. Babies with autism often do not begin to smile, coo or show emotion as others their age do. Older children generally don’t make eye contact or like being touched or cuddled. They also have low tone and sensory difficulties which can range from seeking sensory stimulation or completely avoiding it. Occupational therapy can benefit autistic children in a multitude of ways, such as helping them react to sensory stimuli in an adaptive way, working with them to improve in their communication and focusing skills, increasing their muscle tone, and addressing their behavioral difficulties.