Does My Child Have Autism? 4 Signs to Look Out For
Updated: Mar 14
As a parent, part of raising your child is keeping an eye out for their developmental milestones. That includes looking out for early signs of autism, which can be hard to spot as there’s no one-size-fits-all playbook for the disorder. Studies show that one in 150 children in Singapore has autism, which is slightly higher than the global average of one in 160.
Identifying and diagnosing autism has long been a challenging endeavour, even for medical professionals. However, learning more about the disorder and its symptoms can make a big difference in spotting early warning signs so your child can get the support and help they need.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects a person’s social, communication and emotional skills. It is defined as a spectrum because there is a wide variety of types and levels of severity, with people affected displaying different indicators in varying degrees; every person with ASD is different and is on a unique point in the spectrum. This is perhaps best put by Dr Stephen Shore, an autistic professor: “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”
While research suggests that autism could be due to genetic or environmental reasons, there’s no known and definite cause of ASD. What we do know is the typical symptoms parents can watch out for and since you know your child better than anyone, you are best-equipped to spot any red flags early.
Early Signs of Autism in Children
1. Difficulty with social interaction & communication
Children with autism often face developmental problems with their social and communication skills, finding it challenging to form relationships and maintain typical conversations. About 40% of children on the spectrum are nonverbal, meaning they have difficulty speaking or don’t speak at all. A few other symptoms include:
Avoiding eye contact
Delayed speech and language skills
Not understand basic instructions or responding to his/her name
Wanting to be alone
Becoming upset at seemingly minor changes
Difficulty understanding other people’s emotions
2. Repetitive behaviours
Another common symptom of Autism is repetitive movements and behaviours. At times, these behaviours can be dangerous, but more often than not, they are a way for the child to calm themselves down. Examples of such behaviour include:
Flapping their hands, rocking their body, pacing, spinning in circles
Constantly repeating the same words and phrases
Needing to follow a routine
3. Limited interests
Along the same lines of repetitive behaviours, children with ASD also showcase restricted interests. They tend to be hyper-focused on specific objects to the point that they seem obsessed. Take careful note if your child:
Focuses narrowly on a particular toy or activity
Plays with their toys in the same way every time
Lines up their toys or arranges objects in a particular manner
4. Sensory Sensitivities
Environmental stimuli like noise, light and temperature can be too overwhelming for children with autism. On the flip side, children with ASD can also be under-sensitive to their environment, whereby they are passive to the world around them. This can manifest in the form of:
Unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, sound, or feel
Covering their ears to block out loud noises, or constantly needing music or specific sounds to be played
Being fussy about food
How Early Intervention Can Help
If you have noticed that your child shows signs of Autism, don’t lose hope. Early intervention and treatment can reduce the disorder’s symptoms and improve your child’s abilities. The earlier the diagnosis, the more effective treatment can be. Hence, it’s best not to “wait and see” but instead be proactive in seeking the help of child therapists.
At MindChamps Allied Care, we understand that every child is unique, and we are dedicated to providing our private Early Intervention Programme as well as other related forms of therapy for children in Singapore. Our experienced therapists work closely with you to create a tailor-made treatment plan based on your child’s individual needs. A mix of Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, sessions with our Psychologists and more are used to help your child develop critical skills, overcome developmental challenges, and thrive in life.