Unlike many other disorders that afflict children, no chemical test can be performed to recognize autism in toddlers. Children are instead diagnosed with autism as the result of observations of their behavior. By watching how children interact with each other and the way they carry themselves, parents and medical professionals can detect and officially diagnosis autism. As a mom, you are on the front line of the autism war, as you will likely notice before all others that your child appears to be suffering. If you suspect that your toddler may be autistic, there are some characteristics for which you can watch.
How to Recognize Autism in Toddlers
Try to make eye contact with your child. Don’t attempt to force eye contact at an inopportune time, but instead attempt to make eye contact when you are playing with or cuddling your toddler. If try as you might, you can’t get your child to make this contact, it could be a sign of autism.
Observe your child on the playground. As MayoClinic.com reports, the way your child interacts with his peers could prove or disprove your suspicion of autism. Autistic children often avoid social situations, electing to play solo instead of joining with peers. As your child moves about the jungle gym or swings on the swing set, watch how eager and willing he is to make connections with others.
Compare your child’s growing lexicon to others of his age. Children who suffer from autism often take longer to develop verbal skills, reports WebMD. If your toddler is slow to pick up words, he may be an autism sufferer.
Watch how your child interacts with his toys. While the way your child plays with his toys could seem benign and unimportant, in truth, his toy interaction could be quite telling. If your child uses his toys for uncommon purposes, for example, if he won’t use his toy hammer as a hammer, but instead insists on putting it to use as an imaginary pen, he may suffer from autism, reports WebMD.
Consider what your child does when he needs help. Children who suffer from autism are often reticent to ask for help, even when they need it.
Look for ritualistic behavior. If your child completes all tasks systematically and is loath to deviate from these procedures, he may suffer from autism, reports MayoClinic.com. While it may be difficult to distinguish ritualistic behavior from the general patterned behavior exhibited by many toddlers, watching for rituals that seem beyond the norm could help you determine whether your child is autistic.
Consider the degree to which your child is sensitive to light and pain. Autistic children often also have an increased sensitivity to these stimuli. If your child refuses to go out on a sunny day sans sunglasses or can’t tolerate even the most minute pain, he may be suffering from autism.