Is your child like “Rainman”? Those of us with children on the spectrum may have been asked this question at one time or another. No, most of our children are probably not like “Rainman.” Though Dustin Hoffman’s performance was outstanding, it wasn’t exactly an accurate display of what most of us are familiar with when living with someone who has autism.
Signs of a wide variety will typically start displaying when the child is in the toddler stage of development. Depending on which signs are most prominent, there may be many trips to the doctor’s office before Autism is even considered by the parents and professionals. The child will probably be inaccurately diagnosed several times has having infections or viruses of some kind. This is usually when the parents’ instinct will be at its strongest, and the search for answers to the question “what is wrong with my child” will begin.
Most individuals with an Autism diagnosis possess at least half of the Autism related traits/behaviors listed below, and of course, in varying degrees of intensity and severity.
- no speech or severe language deficit
- self-stimulatory behaviors (a/k/a stims) such as hand flapping, vocal utterances, repetitive behaviors
- agressive and/or self-injurious
- uneven fine motor skills and gross motor skills
- sensory issues, oversensitive and/or undersensitive to sound, touch, taste, sight, and smell
- extreme desire for routine
- echolalia, repeating words/phrases in place of language
- inability to express needs, tantrums are usually a way of communication because of the inability to speak, point, or gesture for what is needed or desired
- outbursts of laughter at inappropriate times or for no apparent reason
- noticeably over or under active
- social anxiety/awkwardness, prefers to be alone
- seemingly deaf, non-responsive to their own name or any other verbal cues
- minimal or no eye contact
- odd play, continuously spinning objects or odd attachment to an item that is not age appropriate
- unable to lean through typical teaching methods
- has noticeably strange eye movements/glances
- severe food allergies
- gastro-intestinal issues
- does not imitate others, lack of imaginative play
- appears completely “unconnected”, “drugged”, “in their own world”
As serious and disturbing as the symptoms on this list are, it is important to remember that there is hope for major improvement and possibly even recovery. Early diagnosis and early intervention can make all the difference in the world for parents and our children. We must be positive and persistant because our children so worth it!
For more local information, please visit http://www.delautism.org.