What are the symptoms of ASD?
Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) vary from one child to the next, but in general, they fall into three areas:
- Social impairment
- Communication difficulties
- Repetitive and stereotyped behaviors
Children with ASD do not follow typical patterns when developing social and communication skills. Parents are usually the first to notice unusual behaviors in their child. Often, certain behaviors become more noticeable when comparing children of the same age.
In some cases, babies with ASD may seem different very early in their development. Even before their first birthday, some babies become overly focused on certain objects, rarely make eye contact, and fail to engage in typical back-and-forth play and babbling with their parents. Other children may develop normally until the second or even third year of life, but then start to lose interest in others and become silent, withdrawn, or indifferent to social signals. Loss or reversal of normal development is called regression and occurs in some children with ASD.
National Institute of Mental Health • A Parent’s Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder affects the rate of typical brain growth in complex ways; which means that there is a wide scope of levels of function and characteristics that are encompassed on the spectrum. ASD symptoms usually appear during early childhood and will continue through to adulthood. However, research shows that symptoms can reach the most optimal outcomes when early intensive intervention has occurred.
ASD is not diagnosable through medical testing. The diagnosis occurs after a period of observation and screening by a team of various professionals, and the parents and/or caregivers of the child.