The World Health Organization (WHO) and American Psychological Association recognize autism as a developmental disability resulting from disorders of the central human nervous system. Though the most apparent signs of autism in children are visible at two or three years of age, parents should also be wary of symptoms of this disorder in their infants.
Though specific causes remain unproven, autism is usually judged to be caused by:
- Genetic influences
- Anatomical abnormality or variations (e.g. head circumference)
- Abnormal blood vessel functions
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), some common early indicators for autism are when babies:
- Don’t ever babble or smile.
- Never respond to gestures.
- Avoid eye contact.
- Seem to be hearing impaired at times.
- Do not respond to calling by name.
- Don’t play with other children or toys.
- Seem to be losing their scarcely developed language skills.
Autistic children fall off the charts when it comes to achieving basic developmental milestones. Generally, babies smile or react in some way when ‘ooh-ed’ and ‘aah-ed’ at. They tend to reach out to grab at pacifiers or crayons handed to them. Autistic children are unable to perform these simple actions.
Keeping in mind that autism usually isn’t diagnosed until about age 3, it is best for parents to trust their instincts about their children and get a full formal developmental evaluation done by a medical expert. The earlier children are diagnosed for this disability, the better are their chances for treatment and intervention.