Autism is gaining greater awareness in recent years and early intervention can help the child a lot in the long run. It is important for parents to know if their child displays any signs or symptoms of autism, which can be observed as early as two years old. Let’s take a few moments to equip ourselves with some common symptoms so we can better care for them.
Little eye contact
Does the child have little eye contact when someone is talking to them? Ben was two years old and his childcare teacher told his mother that Ben looked away every time the teachers were talking to him. Ben also did not respond when they called his name. The teacher suggested that Ben’s mum should take him to see a doctor for advice.
Dislike being held or hugged
Most children enjoy being carried or hugged. However, if he or she consistently does not like to be held or hugged, or struggles to be free when held, and prefers to be left alone, we should pay attention.
Perhaps the child may have “obsessions” like lining toys in a row or stare at spinning objects, like the fan, or wheels of toys? Sometimes, the child may even spend a lot of time spinning themselves round and round.
Repeating or echoing back
Does the child repeat or echo your questions back to you? For example, when you ask him/her questions like “Does the cake taste yummy?” An autistic child may repeat “Does the cake taste yummy?” without answering your question. Having limited speech or communication is something to watch for when the child is three or older.
Prefers to be alone
Cathy usually sits by herself and never seeks the company of her friends during her kindergarten playtime. She loves to be by herself and in her own world. Weak social skills are strong indicator of autism and an autistic child usually does not play or interact with other children. Instead, they are happy to immerse in their own world.
If you suspect that your child is autistic, it will be good to seek professional help early, such as the KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital’s Child Development department. Most important of all, take good of yourselves physically and mentally, because caring for your child is a long journey.
This article is contributed by Tan Lay Pheng for Singapore’s Child.