Autism is a developmental disorder that combines a variety of developmental problems and appears in the first three years of life.
The main symptom is an unwillingness to interact with people.
From a very early age, the child actively looks at toys but consciously avoids human eyes, and even after 24 months of age, the child does not show any nervousness when family members approach them for touching or interaction.
After the age of 24 months, it is essential to detect the disorder early, but it is often thought of as a child who wants to do his own thing or is stubborn.
As ASD is mostly diagnosed in children from higher socio-economic backgrounds, it has been misconstrued that parental neglect is the cause of the symptoms.
The hypothesis that the cause of autism was parental neglect led to the inappropriate treatment of children with autism by removing them from their families and placing them in institutions.
By the 1960s, however, it was clear that autism was a brain disorder and that the family’s income, lifestyle, and parental education did not play a role. Behavioural characteristics of children with autism observed after 24 months of age are as follows
Delayed language development
First-time parents often worry about their child’s delayed speech.
However, the most important developmental delay in children with ASD is not language expression, but language comprehension. They can understand simple everyday object names and actions (rice, water, milk, go out, sit, no, eat, etc.).
However, even simple errands that can be performed at 14 to 16 months of age are not performed until after 24 months of age. Parents may think that the child understands what they are saying but does not listen to them, or that the child has a tendency to do as he pleases.
If the child has some speech around 25-36 months, he or she may use ‘echolalia’.
About 80% of children with autism are reported to have echolalia.
This is when a child repeats what their mother says, the easiest example of which is mumbling “Do you want to eat?” repeatedly, whether or not they know what the words mean. Parents may assume that their child can speak in sentences and decide to wait a little longer.
Difficulty communicating emotions
When a mother expresses affection to her child, it is difficult for the child to feel accepted.
Similarly, when a mother is angry, her child doesn’t show any signs of tension.
This can lead to frustration in the interaction because your feelings are not being communicated to your child. She may also feel guilty that she’s not giving her child enough attention or playing with her.
It’s also very hard to know what your child is feeling.
If you’re with your child for 24 hours, you’ll be able to tell if they’re happy or unhappy, but beyond that, it’s hard for them to communicate their feelings to you. This is because children with ASD have great difficulty expressing their emotions.
Crying, screaming, or laughing can be decontextualised, making it very difficult for the primary caregiver to understand how the child is feeling.
The most common reason for this is that the child deliberately avoids eye contact with the mother.
Normally developing babies show reactions to other people as soon as they are born. As early as four months old, they can tell from facial expressions how the other person is feeling and try to determine their behaviour accordingly.
However, this behaviour is not observed in children with ASD. This behaviour, which involves consciously avoiding eye contact, can sometimes be detected as early as four to six months of age.
However, children with ASD also recognise that their mothers are meaningful figures who can protect them from danger.
They may refuse to interact during playtime, but if they want something to eat, they may approach you, hold your hand, and go to the fridge. She will also seek out and rely on you when she is scared in unfamiliar places.
Therefore, even if family members or neighbours who see him occasionally suggest that his behaviour is strange, it is difficult for his mother to admit that he has autism because he is capable of basic interaction and trusts her.
Special reactions to sensory stimuli
Children with ASD are not sensitive to verbal information, but they are very sensitive to visual or auditory stimuli.
They can be very sensitive or not so sensitive to skin stimuli. They are particularly insensitive to the dizzying sensation of moving their head, so when they get bored, they will often spin themselves in circles.
At this age, going up to high places usually makes babies feel dizzy and scared because they can visually feel the distance between themselves and the ground. However, children with ASD don’t feel scared by heights, so they will continue to climb when they get bored.
Resistance to change
Children with ASD can be very resistant to changes in their familiar environment.
They may not wear their usual clothes, change their shoes, or take a different route. Therefore, getting ready to go out with your child can be a huge burden for mothers.
Meaningless or compulsive behaviour
When bored, a child with ASD may exhibit behaviours such as constantly opening and closing doors, or trying to take the lift up and down all day.
When you go to a department store, it’s hard for you to go to the bathroom because he’ll keep playing in places where there are lifts or escalators.
Obsession with specific objects
It’s known that children with ASD love cars, especially spinning their wheels.
It doesn’t have to be just cars, there may be certain objects that your child prefers. Of course, children with normal developmental characteristics often have a favourite toy at this age, such as cars or dinosaurs.
However, while typically developing children are excited when you take away their favourite toy and give them a new one, children with ASD have a hard time getting them interested in new toys.
After the age of 24 months, children can engage in symbolic play such as pretend play and super play.
However, children with autism lack the motivation to engage in this type of play and are less likely to co-operate with their family or peer group.
Even when playing with blocks, they have difficulty using them to create symbolic shapes such as cars and houses, so even after 24 months of age, their play is limited to simply lining up blocks and stacking them on top of each other.
Many parents believe that the cause of ASD symptoms is a lack of parental play.
This is because if a child is not responsive to interaction before the age of 24 months, they are eventually left to play on their own, and it may be interpreted that the symptoms are due to the fact that they were left to play on their own in the first place.
However, it’s important to analyse whether the child’s need to play alone started with the parents or with the child’s behavioural characteristics.
Autism spectrum disorder is often referred to as “autism”, “childhood autism”, or “pervasive developmental delay”.
This is because observations of children with autistic tendencies have shown that there are many different forms of autism, ranging from very severe to very mild.
Therefore, instead of calling them “children with autism”, the diagnosis of “Autism Spectrum Disorders” (ASD) is sometimes used, meaning “children with autistic tendencies”.
In the United States, the term “Autism and Related Disorders” is sometimes used to describe special schools for children with autism.
Children with ASD who are portrayed in films and television usually have very severe autism.
As a result, many parents assume that their child has milder symptoms than the children they see on TV, and that their child does not have ASD, resulting in early diagnosis.
In recent years, there has been a trend to diagnose autism at an early stage if a child shows symptoms of autism, even in a mild form, and to enter into early interventions to reduce the tendency of autism.
In general, early intervention or early special education programmes, including parental education, are provided even before the age of two.