Does your child seem to exist in his or her own private world? And do they have problems communicating with others? If this is the case, then there’s a chance that they might have autism.
We explore the signs of autism before sharing insights on how early intervention programmes can help improve the communication skills of children with autism. But first, let’s unpack what autism is.
What is Autism? And Who Does It Affect?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a range of complex developmental conditions. Children with autism may exhibit repetitive behaviours and difficulty with social skills, speech and nonverbal communication.
As autism is influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, the condition is best understood as a spectrum of behaviours and experiences — where each person with autism has a unique set of strengths and challenges. Some people with autism may require more support, while others can live without any need for assistance. Others may even have exceptional abilities in specific areas such as music or mathematics.
According to research published in the Autism academic journal, an estimated 1 in 150 Singaporeans are on the autism spectrum. But autism is found around the world in similar numbers regardless of race, ethnicity, income or lifestyle. While the causes of autism aren’t fully understood, the symptoms of autism can be clearly observed. Let’s explore some of them.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Autism?
Signs of autism can appear as early as 18 months but they’re typically noticed by age two or three. While they differ between children, here are some common autism symptoms.
- Does not respond to their own name
- Prefers playing alone and does not share well with others
- Doesn’t make eye contact with adults and other children
- Has little interest in making new friends — or does not understand how to make friends
Language and communication skills
- Delayed speech
- Has difficulty forming sentences and gets pronouns confused
- Struggles to make conversation or talk about their feelings
- Repeats words or phrases
- Doesn’t make use of non-verbal communication such as waving, pointing or nodding
Repetitive or restrictive behaviours
- Has a narrow range of interests
- Repeats actions like lining toys or flapping their hands
- Resists minor changes in daily routine and surroundings
- Has intense reactions to stimuli like smells, sounds, textures, tastes, lights and or colours
What Should I Do If I Suspect My Child Has Autism?
If you recognise some of the above signs of autism, then consider securing an autism diagnosis. This is because, while many children with autism succeed in mainstream schools, their condition may mean that they don’t pick up skills as quickly as their peers. For example, a child with autism may take longer to pick up words or they may struggle with time management, memory retention and concentration. These skills are crucial to succeeding in mainstream learning environments.
But once your child is tested, you’ll have the answers you need to pursue a solution for their learning challenges. Early intervention programmes, for instance, use proven teaching methods to unlock the learning potential of children on the autism spectrum.
Securing an Expert Autism Diagnosis
To get the most accurate diagnosis, take your child to a qualified development specialist. In Singapore, you can access a specialist by booking an appointment at private facilities and specialised learning centres. Significantly, the earlier a child gets diagnosed, the earlier they receive support for their learning difficulties.
At Thomson Kids, we offer thorough and internationally-recognised autism assessments. By combining our autism tests with other diagnostic tools, such as literacy and hearing tests, we ensure accurate diagnoses. Along with our autism assessments, we offer guidance on which learning intervention programmes are best suited to help your child.