As mentioned in a previous post, I strongly urge you to check with your family doctor or pediatrician regarding anything that you suspect might be a developmental delay. It is always better to be proactive than reactive. But what are some of the classic signs of autism?
Some of the signs that I noticed with Devin were:
- Speech delay — When Devin came to live with us, he was just about to turn 4. He could say single words, but could not put two or more words together.
- Inability to make eye contact — If I had a penny for everytime that I have ever said, “Devin, look at my eyes,” I would probably be a millionaire. This is still difficult for him 14 years later.
- Social interaction — When I would take Devin to the park or someplace where there were other children, he would sometimes play near the other children so that it appeared that he was playing with them. But upon closer inspection, it would be obvious that he was not playing with them, but rather alongside of them.
- Impulsive behavior — Devin had absolutely no sense of fear. One day when we were at a playground, he stood at the top of the slide and insisted that he was going to jump to the ground (approximately 10 or 12 feet). I was petrified as I tried to explain to him that he would not fly like a bird, but would more likely be badly hurt! But I finally persuaded him to slide down instead of jumping!
- Obsessions with certain objects — When Devin becomes fixated on something, that is all that matters to him unless you can find something to distract him. As a younger child, it was flags, kites, cars, watching water go down the drain, setting a bicycle or tricycle on it’s side to watch the tire spin, or the color blue. As he has grown older, it has become taking things apart, tinkering, gardening, collecting “old” things, and “inventing” things.
- Compulsive behaviors — Devin was constantly climbing, chewing on his fingers, lining things up, and biting himself. He also would experience meltdowns when things did not go his way or when he was on overload from things going on around him.
- Learning Disabilities — The early school years were a constant struggle with Devin. He struggled with reading and math, but loved science-related lessons.
- Sensitivity to loud or unexpected noises — Devin has always loved to be outside, but whenever there was a loud noise he would run back into the house. Even if a fire truck or police car passed with the sirens going, he would come running into the house screaming at the top of his lungs.
- Showing lack of awareness of other people’s emotions — Devin never paid any attention to how other people were feeling or how his actions might affect other people.
Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each individual with autism is going to display signs of the disorder in different ways. In the same respect, some individuals with autism may show some of the signs I saw in Devin but not others; or the degree to which they are affected in some areas may be more or less than what we experienced.
If you have any comments, questions or ideas to share on this topic, please feel free to leave a comment below! Or maybe you have another area related to autism that you would like me to talk about! Just let me know!