Autism Screening Red Flags

Association of Educators
September 7, 2012 — 1,117 views  

Autism spectrum disorders involve a wide range of neurodevelopment problems. These impairments affect a child’s behavior, ability to communicate and interact socially. Autism is the severest form of the disorder. Asperger’s Syndrome is milder, but that makes it more difficult to recognize. Children who fall in between these two extremes can manifest some symptoms of autism but not others.

Autism screenings look at a child’s development to see if they are learning skills as quickly as they should. Delays in any of the basic areas of development are a red flag that can alert teachers, education professionals and administrators to a potential problem. Autism screenings are used for referral purposes so that the child can be further evaluated by someone experienced in working with autistic children. These red flags do not always mean the child has autism.

When looking for potential problems, the basic characteristics and symptoms of autism include the following:

• little or no eye contact
• trouble with hand and eye coordination
• staring off into space or at an object for lengthy periods of time
• difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling
• lack of imaginative play
• taking everything you say literally
• attention difficulties and hyperactivity problems
• severe anxiety and exaggerated fears
• showing little or no sympathy or empathy for others
• engaging in repetitive movements such as rocking or twirling
• flapping their hands in front of their face
• speech delays and strange patterns such as calling themselves by their name

In addition, their interests are severely limited. Generally, autistic children only enjoy a couple of different things. While there isn’t a pattern to what they like, their fascinations actually become an obsession. Many of these children have a strong need to line up objects or toys, or they will lie down on the floor and spin the tires of a car or truck for hours. They have extreme difficulty playing with other children and usually prefer to play by themselves.

Sensory integration disorders often accompany autism. These difficulties involve problems with vision, touch, hearing, taste, smell, balance and knowing where their body parts are in relationship to objects. They may drop things for no reason, knock over a glass, trip and fall, smell everything, have picky eating habits or crash into objects or other children.

While none of these symptoms by themselves means a child has autism, becoming more aware of potential problems and red flags can help children with learning disabilities, hyperactivity or autism receive the early intervention they need.

Association of Educators