Autism & Children: When Should I Pursue Testing?
Children can show signs of autism fairly early in their development, but parents often struggle with knowing when is too early to test. This blog post will go over some of the more distinct symptoms of autism that reside outside of the normal growing patterns for children.
Your Child Is Unique
Realizing that your child presents with differences in development may be difficult to understand. While some children are able to function at age-expected levels, your child may struggle in areas that his/her peers seem to do easily. Whether it be speech, motor, or social difficulties, your child is still trying to communicate something to you. As a parent, knowing when to seek a specialist can be challenging, but recognizing your child’s unique behavioral presentation early on will help equip you with the proper resources you and your child may need to move forward.
Autism Has Many Faces
Defining autism by one shared experience is nearly impossible as it presents differently across individuals. Some may show characteristics through a lack of verbal speech, while others struggle to process and respond to social cues. You may know someone who has autism, and you may not see the same characteristics in your child. This struggle is often emphasized when you cannot put yourself in your child's shoes and see the world through their eyes. As a parent, you want to give your child the best possible support so they can have the needed set of skills to make their way through the world as an adult. However, when you notice your child is not making the same developmental gains as his or her peers, you may find yourself confused. You may also wonder if you are doing all of the right things as a parent. If you are wanting more answers about your child, an evaluation to consider autism may be helpful.
When To Test Your Child
Many parents are not sure when to request an evaluation. When is it too early to test for developmental disabilities? It can be hard to know as many developmental stages for children - especially throughout the toddler years - are so personalized to each child. One child may exceed expectations at 12 months, while another may not meet those same expectations until 15 months. It is understandable how some parents may want to wait on pursuing an autism evaluation. If you suspect your child is showing some signs of delay or may require additional support in their developmental journey, the 18-month mark is typically when their behavioral patterns and needs can be assessed.
Below are some symptoms that can lead to an autism diagnosis at 18 months:
Reduced or zero eye contact
Preference to self-soothe rather than have personal contact (hugs and cuddles)
Difficulty recognizing nonverbal cues
Relying on specific routines and becomes fussy when things are out of order
High sensitivity to loud sounds, bright lights, or too little personal space
Testing Is Your Greatest Resource
There is no definitive way to know if your child has autism unless they are tested by a trained professional, such as Dr. Arduengo. By learning early on that your child’s brain functions differently than those of other neurotypical children, you are giving yourself a chance to learn so much more about their unique presentation. Knowing that your child has autism means that the way they understand the world is more unique than anyone around them. If you are struggling with figuring out when is the best time to test your child for autism, please contact us at PEARS, PLLC. Dr. Arduengo will work diligently to help you fully understand your child’s unique strengths and weaknesses.