Discussion ListCategory: AutismWhat Do Autism Spectrum Disorders Look Like in Children and Adolescents?
Kumar Staff asked 4 months ago

Children with ASD are generally noted early in life to have developmental delays. Symptoms of ASD are progressively recognized within a child’s initial year and a half of life. Language delay is the most widely recognized reason families look for assessment. Some children may have delayed speech, while other children speak with unusual patterns. Examples of unusual speech include repeating phrases spoken to them (known as echolalia), using phrases in unusual ways (including scripted language where the child responds to different comments from family using the same verbal responses, such as “Want milk” when the child wants a snack or toy), saying the same phrases over and over again (known as perseveration), and reversing pronouns (saying “You want juice,” when the child wants juice). Children may not use language at all when interacting with others, or they may speak in a monotone that sounds “flat.”
The issues with social interactions stem from an impaired ability to perceive events and interpret communication accurately from others. As a result of this impairment, children with ASD have irregular and sudden reactions to their environment, including an inclination to collaborate less with others. Youthful youngsters may maintain a strategic distance from eye to eye connection with others, may not look when addressed, and may appear to stay away from eye to eye connection all in all. They may express less feelings on their face. They may appear to have less interest in sharing their discoveries with others and prefer to intently focus on an object rather than show it to a parent. There may be less pointing at objects for others to find, less following the pointing of others, and less reciprocal giving and taking of objects, in comparison to peers. Unlike their same-aged peers, children may also have difficulty appreciating that others have their own thoughts and wishes. Despite these challenges, children may have certain kinds of interests in others, so the presumption that they lack this interest may not always be accurate.
Because of their difficulties with social interaction and, in some cases, communication, children with autism spectrum disorders may be easily misunderstood. Simple requests from a parent may not produce the expected response, leaving both the parent and child frustrated or confused. Children may be perceived as stubborn. When rigid adherence to daily activities is often seen in children with ASD, this generally reflects their underlying need for routine and predictability rather than intentional manipulation of parents.
Children with autism spectrum disorders often have unusual interests or behaviors, and their play may appear less imaginative and more repetitive. They may be more interested in parts of an object rather than the whole object. For example, rather than playing with a toy car in the typical way, a child with ASD may spend extensive time focusing on lining up cars or just spinning their wheels over and over. Children may also be attached to odd items that are hard or technical rather than cuddly. For example, a child may be particularly attached to a plastic lid and insist on keeping it nearby at all times, rather than a soft stuffed animal or blanket. In other cases, a child may be attached to a category of items, such as magazines, but not have a preference for which magazine is in hand. Unusual behaviors include sitting with legs in a “W” position instead of with crossed legs, hand flapping, repeated spinning, walking on toes, or other movements that are repeated without clear purpose.
Often children with ASD have sensory integration difficulties, causing them to be either highly sensitive or underresponsive to sound, light, and other sources of stimulation through the senses. They may overreact to sounds, grabbing their ears when hearing an unexpected sound (such as a bell or siren), and yet talk very loudly when speaking to others. They may object to rough-textured clothing on their skin or tags inside their clothes. They may eat a very restricted range of foods or textures, and may tolerate hugging but become irritable when touched lightly. This sensory sensitivity, sometimes called “tactile defensiveness,” can make these children appear even more disinterested in others, as physical contact may irritate rather than console these children.
Cognitive abilities vary widely. Many children with ASD have some degree of mental retardation, while other children do not. Some children with autism disorder or Asperger’s disorder are particularly gifted in certain areas, such as music, math, or art. This “savant” category is actually quite small, and it is currently estimated that less than 1 percent of ASD children have these exceptional talents or “splinter abilities.” If these abilities are present, they are usually recognized by age 10. Autistic savants became more widely known with the release of the 1988 movie Rain Man, in which the character Raymond could instantly determine the day of the week for distant dates and was able to multiply extremely large numbers in his head.
Programs or interventions that are beneficial to children with autism spectrum disorders may not be effective for these children as they become adolescents. With the right ongoing interventions, however, young people with ASD usually can continue to make progress. For example, adolescents may increasingly seek social interactions though they still may not have the skills of their peers to initiate and maintain social relationships. In adulthood, people with autistic disorder, PDD-NOS, and Asperger’s disorder may continue to make gains, although sometimes more slowly. They often still have notable difficulties “putting it all together” to lead an independent life, and many require assisted-living supports to participate fully in community life.

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