Asperger’s in children – how can you identify it?

Aspergers syndrome affects millions of people every year and can be difficult to identify in children sometimes. However, the earlier it is diagnosed, the quicker your child can start to receive treatment for it. Many children exhibit symptoms from time to time, but in normal child behaviour it can be tricky to notice the difference from children being children, to those who may have the condition. It’s important to remember that just because your child hasn’t met the desired milestones for their age, it doesn’t necessarily reflect a symptom of Aspergers. However, here are some of the ways in which you can spot it in infants and toddlers.

Some of the early signs are there when children don’t meet the milestones attributed to their age, though this isn’t always the case, as previously mentioned. Some of these include standing unassisted, crawling, waving and other simple gestures, and various other motor skills. Some children who have Aspergers syndrome fail to meet these, which could be a sign that they have the condition. Within the first few months of life, for example, a child with the condition may fail to interact with their environment such as avoiding eye contact or limiting interactions with other people, preferring to be solitary. As they grow, they will struggle to react with objects and activities, as well as developing repetitive behavioural traits, such as rocking.

Aspergers in children can be signalled by abnormal methods of non-verbal communication, such as in their subdued facial expressions or in body gestures. They will also lack social skills attributed to someone of their age who doesn’t have the condition – this is one of the most common symptoms of the syndrome, with infants and toddlers displaying this through not smiling, for example, until much later in life. They may become irritable or cry when confronted with social contact or interaction with other people, and this will become more apparent as they age. Their language development will be different to children without Aspergers, in that by 12 months most children will be able to say singular words – children with the condition will exhibit more unusual words even though they’ve met this milestone. Additionally, more complex words, such as Mountain or Sheetrock will be said before simpler words such as Mummy or Daddy.

Children with Aspergers have an obsessive trait with complex topics, such as the pattern on a fabric or in a book, and babies with the condition may start to listen to music that would generally be ignored by other children their age. They will struggle to notice other things within the environment once they’ve focused in on their obsession, and behavioural conditioning will be necessary in order to resolve this particular symptom. Studies suggest that they will have poor coordination and will move more clumsily than other children their age. This is common in children with Aspergers and can delay their ability to crawl or walk, as well as their ability to develop fine motor skills, such as grasping objects. It’s common that in infants and toddlers, the specific symptoms may not be visible but that certain behavioural abnormalities are noticed, which could act as a warning sign. This is generally repetitive habits, a difficulty with language and speech, and an advanced vocabulary. If you think that your child may be showing some of the signs that a child with Aspergers may exhibit, it’s advised that you seek a test from your GP in order to rule out the condition.

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