Often, parents raise concerns regarding autism when they realise that their child is delayed in speech and language. However, speech delay does not always indicate autism.
What are the early signs of autism?
Some red flags of autism include:
- Lack of showing/pointing out objects of interest to other people
- Does not respond to name when called
- Limited social initiations (only initiates to get help)
- Deficits in the use & understanding of gestures (waving, nodding/shaking head)
- Limited interest in others
- Suddenly loses his/ her speech and language skills
- Restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour/interests
Non-functional play with objects
Obsessions with numbers/letters
Extreme interest with watching movements (e.g. spinning of wheels of toys)
If there are concerns that a child is showing potential symptoms of autism, a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation can be conducted by developmental paediatricians, child neurologists, or child psychologists/psychiatrists.
An evaluation by a speech-language therapist on the child's communication and language needs is also vital. Based on the assessment findings, speech therapists will be able to devise an appropriate treatment program to improve the child's communication skills.