Simply speaking, AUTISM is a broad development disorder, usually surfacing within the first 30 months of life. Yet sometimes the disease can only surface at the age of four or five, then it is referred to as “atypical autism.” Autism is difficult to diagnose in children, because of its varied nature and occurring in different forms. One can even say, that it would be impossible to find two children with the same course of disease. The degree of symptoms can be varied, as well as dynamics of the changes.
Below, we present autism symptoms classification. It is important to keep in mind, however, that a single symptom of autism in our child does not equal the presence of the disease, and that only a few of them coexisting may be an indication for a more detailed observation.
S.M.B. Pecyna’s classification offers three categories for autism symptoms:
QUALITATIVE SOCIAL RELATIONS DISORDERS
– nonverbal behavior disorders
– lack of peer relationships,
– lack of need for sharing experiences with others,
– lack of social or emotional exchange
QUALITATIVE COMMUNICATION DISORDERS IN RELATION TO OTHER PEOPLE
– speech impaired or undeveloped,
– stereotyped and repeated words (echolalia)
– lack of spontaneous language skills typical for the given development level
LIMITED AND STEREOTYPED BEHAVIORAL PATTERNS
– repeating a single or several interest patterns, atypical for the norm of a given age
– attachment to rituals and habits,
– repeating certain movement patterns,
– persistent focusing only on objects while avoiding people.
Similar autism symptoms () are put forth by J. Kruk-Lasocka, which she calls the triad of dysfunction symptoms.
Leo Kanner presents following autism symptoms:
– autistic isolation,
– necessity for immutability of environment,
– lack of capacity for social interactions,
– stereotyped, repeating behaviors,
– speech dysfunction (echolalia, pronoun reversal) or a complete lack of speech,
– ease of rote memorization.
Then, to sum up the above classifications, the behaviors that should be a reason to some concern for us are:
– isolating from the environment,
– no willingness to play with other children,
– no creativity during playtime,
– an impression that child prefers interacting with objects than with people,
– avoiding or quick breaking off of eye contact,
– an impression that our child looks “through” a person rather than at them,
– lack of speech or using meaningless words,
– repeating words, so the earlier-mentioned echolalia,
– strange, unsettling behaviors like: spinning objects, spinning around, or swaying,
– lack of spontaneous movement,
– taking small steps while walking,
– showing resistance to any kind of change in their routine,
– hypersensitivity to touch, sound, taste or smell,
– lack reaction to pain,
– reluctance to hugging,
– particular attachment to one thing or toy,
– appearing deaf or hard of hearing,
– idiosyncratic reaction to particular kinds of stimuli, e.g. particular sounds,
– we get an impression that the child knows the intended use of toys, but doesn’t know what to do with them, sometimes stacking them in a given order (for example throwing bricks into the box in a given order, sorted by color, size, shape, etc., and when interrupted by someone throwing something not matching, restarts everything from the start),
– no ability to point finger at what it needs, when it needs anything it usually pulls an adult’s hand.
However, we again wish to stress, that we need to remember a child can show only some of the symptoms (and not all). Some autistic children, for example, like to hug, talk a lot (though not always correctly), and they do not have a high degree of unusual behaviors. Therefore we should keep in mind that some children may strongly show autism symptoms, while in others these symptoms may be subdued or even difficult to notice.