For many people, autism is still understood from the perspective of what some may call “classic autism”. For those of us with children on the Autism Spectrum, living closer to the “Asperger’s” line, it may be easy to write off Junior’s behaviors as different or merely delayed. Anything but autism. After all, each child is unique and develops at his or her own pace, right?
The trouble begins when signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder are treated as, “he’ll grow into himself,”. If overlooked, the child does not get much needed help. This lack of understanding often leads to years of misunderstandings and improper treatment. Increased difficulties in social settings occur, such as school (think recess, lunch time and group work).
Here are some signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder to take seriously if you have concerns your child may be affected. (Disclaimer: See your child’s pediatrician or a respected therapist to delve deeper. Use these as points to consider, not as a diagnosis.) Consider referring to the DSM V for some more details from the source: CLICK HERE
- Your child prefers to play “side by side” instead of interacting with you or her friends. When she does interact, the play may be scripted, as opposed to free flowing.
- Intense interests in a limited number of subjects.
- Sensory concerns, such as notable aversion to certain smells, textures, tastes, sounds, lighting, etc. Not all may be present, but most people on the Autism Spectrum have Sensory Processing Disorder in some form or another. In fact, Temple Grandin has suggested that it is part of being autistic.
- Difficulty with changes in routine.
- Inappropriate social interaction, missing social cues and understanding nonverbal communication. Add to this a literal way of thinking.
One thing that stands apart from what many think of as “classic autism”, is that many kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD, formerly Asperger’s Syndrome) do not have verbal delay. In fact, many with ASD have an impressive vocabulary, which starts at an early age. Such children may be deemed, “little professors”, as was the case with our daughter. This is where many of us feel autism diagnoses fork, as many use language delay as a diagnostic point, which is not appropriate for most Autism Spectrum children.
Even though kids with ASD do not have as severe outward symptoms of autism as the counterparts on the other end of the spectrum, they do need help to grow. They also need to learn how to act appropriately socially and how to take care of themselves. Early intervention is just as important with these kids as it is with others. With that in mind, it is imperative that concerns are dealt with early on, even if it means changing doctors and/or therapists. Sometimes, it means sitting down and being honest with ourselves if our child does, indeed, seem “different.”
Personally, we, as a family, worked incredibly hard and made many sacrifices throughout our daughters early years. It wasn’t easy, and results were far from immediate. However, it paid off in spades. At the end of the day, trust your gut. If you feel something is off, look into it. Take action. Be prepared to work hard. You are not in this alone. On the other hand, if you feel someone is pushing you into a diagnosis you don’t feel fits, seek another opinion. Not all children who display the above have anything related to autism. This is where it is crucial to seek advice from someone in a position to help you fully understand your child.
For further study, look into the work of Dr. Tony Attwood or Tania Marshall, as they both have a heart for people on the autism spectrum and have loads of information for you, if you’d like it!
(And they are awesome people I am honored to know!)
Julie Clark is the published author of “Asperger’s in Pink”, which you can buy here, and speaks professionally about Autism. She is also the creative force behind Julie Clark Art. Julie is happily married and has a beautiful daughter. She is currently working on her second novel.