Hello. My name is Melissa and my son, Billy, was diagnosed at age 2 with moderate/severe autism and sensory issues. It was an over 8 month process to get him to his diagnosis. It started with noticing some signs after he turned 1 which then led to the many doctors we had to go through to get my son the help and diagnosis he so needed. The path was a bit stressful at times and scary, but in the end, I am glad I could get Billy the help he needed as soon as possible.
As I am sure you have heard, getting services as early as possible for children with autism is key to helping them gain important developmental skills. Therefore, early detection is extremely important. Based on my experience with my son I have put together a list of 8 signs that your child may have Autism. It is important to note that I am not a doctor, psychologist or neurologist. I am a mom who wants to share with other moms what I have learned during this process.
8 Signs Your Child May Have Autism
Speech Delay/Regressed Speech
My son was talking before he turned 1, saying Dada, Mama, Baba and many common words an infant says. But, after he turned 1, it was as if a light had turned off in his brain. He woke one day and just wasn’t talking. We didn’t think anything of it, until it went on for a week, than two, than a month. Billy stopped saying all words and no matter what we did or how hard we tried to help, they never returned. This is a huge sign in children with autism, they either have delayed speech or even have speech that regresses, like my son.
Head Banging and Tantrums
Right before Billy turned 17 months, we noticed a new thing he was doing. He would get frustrated easily and bang his head on the tiled floor. If he wanted or needed something, he wasn’t able to tell us and in turn would get upset. He would start crying and would walk himself over to the kitchen floor and bang his head repeatedly. This was a very scary thing he did, and was one of the major signs to me that something wasn’t right with my child. Autistic children usually can’t communicate easily and when overwhelmed, will turn to hurting themselves to seek that sensory input they need.
Does Not Respond To His Name
No matter how many times we would say his name, Billy would never look at us. It was as if my child was deaf, but we knew he wasn’t because he would come running into a room if we turned on his favorite show. Many children with autism lack receptive language skills as well as social skills which impacts their ability to respond to not only questions and requests but also their name.
I also started to notice another big thing when Billy was 18 months, he didn’t care to socialize with other kids or adults. I would go on play,dates with my friends who had children the same age as my son. Their kids would be running and playing with each other. Laughing and giggling, running up to their moms and dads for attention. But, not my son. Billy would just sit in one area, content as could be, and play quietly by himself. He never tried to play with other children and didn’t seem to even care of I was in the room or not. Even when we were home, if I tried to snuggle with him on the couch, he couldn’t be bothered. He would struggle to get away and play by himself on the floor.
Many children with autism have sensory integration issues which often lead to stimming behavior such as hand flapping, spinning, rocking, head banging and other repetitive movements. Many autistic children will flap their hands, spin repeatedly in circles and walk on their toes. Billy did all three things everyday.
No Eye Contact
Another sign is never making eye contact. Every time we talked to Billy, we noticed he would never look at us in the eyes. He did the same for anyone in his presence. This is a very common sign of autism; however, it is not seen in all children who are diagnosed.
No Safety Awareness
A lack of fear or awareness of danger was a major issue we noticed with our son. Billy did not fear anything. Even if he got hurt, he would go right back to doing the same thing again. He also never seemed to understand danger.
Obsessive/Compulsive Behavior When Playing
A big thing we noticed was how Billy loved to play with the same exact toys every single day, all day long. He would also always line his trains up in a long, straight line to play. He would never vary from playing with his trains and never played pretend with them, just lined them up. A lack of engagement in pretend and imaginary play is another sign of autism in young children and one to be on the look out for.
These 8 signs are just a few of the many signs that can be present in a child with autism. When I started to notice these things with my son, I knew that something wasn’t right. I had a feeling that he could possibly have autism and I wanted to do the most I could to get him diagnosed and start the therapies he needed as soon as possible. I started at his pediatrician, who than referred us to a pediatric neurologist. I also got in touch with our local Early Intervention Unit. Billy is now 3 years old and already thriving! I am amazed at all the new things he says and does everyday.
If you are noticing these signs with your child, make an appointment with your child’s doctor to discuss the signs and possibly make an appointment to be evaluated for autism. It may seem scary at first, but the best thing you can do for your child is get them the help and therapy they need as early on as possible.
Please follow along on my adventures of raising a child with autism at autismmommyavenger.org. Feel free to ask me any questions you may have. I am here to help as much as possible!