How Pediatricians Screen for Autism

Autism is one of the most misunderstood conditions in children, yet it is one that is often talked about in the press, and has been heavily researched in medical circles. It is difficult to describe autism as there are many different symptoms, and each case has different results. Autism – or to be more precise, Autism Spectrum Disorders – only became understood recently, and can manifest in many different ways.

Generally, a child suffering from autism will be slower in developing, may have problems with communication, and may not respond to social cues in the manner of – for want of a better word – a ‘normal’ child. Be aware that the above is a generalisation, as there are many more signals that a child may be on the spectrum.

What is important is that if you suspect your child is perhaps autistic, you have him or her screened by a practitioner with expertise in this area of paediatrics. It is a very specialised field and one that needs an expert. Screening will involve looking for the known and clear signs of autism, yet as we have mentioned there are some that are commonplace, and some that are occasional.

Children can – with the correct help and mentoring – progress and, in many cases, leave autism behind, although often with minor symptoms remaining. Finding expert autism doctors for your child is therefore vital. Let’s talk about what a doctor will be looking for when they begin to screen your child for potential autism symptoms.

Some Autism Symptoms

As mentioned above, there is no single symptom or sign that definitely signifies a child is autistic. What there are, are several areas of possible problems that can be used to screen a child effectively. These are broken down as follows:

Social Differences – autistic children have trouble recognising facial expressions and what they mean; for example, one may not respond to a smile from a parent, or may not use facial expressions themselves. They may also have a tendency not to make or keep eye contact, and won’t respond when a parent points at or indicates an object. These are just a few things a doctor will look for.

Communication Problems – slow development of speech – not speaking by 15 months, for example – and a lack of incentive to communicate are common symptoms of autism. They may also repeat that which others have said, without the meaning being apparent to them, and fail to respond to their name – while actively responding to other sounds.

Behavioural Differences – children on the autism spectrum may display unusual behaviour in the form of repeated obsession with certain routines, over-sensitivity to any of the senses, paying with detailed parts of a toy rather than the entire object, and displaying very narrow and unusual interests.

It is important to understand that the above are just a few of the many different signs that a child on the autism spectrum may display, and it is vital that – should you suspect your child is autistic – they are seen by a qualified and expert paediatrician as soon as possible.

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