Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Children

March 16, 2012 — 1,085 views  

The term autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is used to describe a fairly wide range of individual developmental, learning and mental health disorders in children. Though these vary from condition to condition, certain symptoms can be considered commonalities among them, and it's essential to be aware of these to properly identify the potential presence of an ASD. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the most common symptoms of ASDs fall into three categories.

Social impairment is particularly common, involving a lack of response to commonly understood human social and emotional signals. Specific examples include infrequent or nonexistent eye contact, unusual responses to strong emotions in others, bizarre facial expressions or body language and strange tones of voice.

Similarly, children with ASDs often find communication incredibly difficult. This can manifest itself as echolalia (excessive repetition of words or phrases), a failure to speak normally or use common gestures, the use of strange or invented words and speaking at length without regard for others.

Finally, repetitive behaviors are also frequent in children with ASDs. They may become fixated on particular toys, routines, gestures or subjects of study. (The latter habit sometimes leads to excellence in mathematics and science, due to these subject areas' basis in patterns.)

It is best for children to receive a diagnosis of ASD at as young an age as possible, due to the improvements often seen as a result of intensive early intervention behavioral therapy.