Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorders is the name given to an extensive range of learning disability disorders marked by difficulties in non-verbal communications, diminished social interaction capacities, extremely restricted interests and activities, and repetitive actions or behavior. It does not cause any physical abnormalities or disabilities. It is the most prevalent form of childhood developmental conditions. Medical experts theorize that autism is caused due to different genetic and environmental factors.
As autism tend to affect the development and growth of the brain, the affected child is usually disinterested in communication and socialization. The signs of autism tend to be present in children from infancy itself. However, it often remains undiagnosed till the child becomes 3 years old. Boys are more affected by the disorder than girls.
No type of medical test can indicate whether or not a child is affected by autism. It is therefore vital for parents to carefully observe the actions, development, and behavior of their babies. This is the only manner in which one may notice the symptoms of autism and use the observations as evidence for diagnosis of the disorder.
Signs of autism in 2 year olds
Some of the common signs and symptoms of autism in 2 year olds are discussed below:
1. Absent or lack of language development
- Normal children usually commence babbling, cooing, creating funny sounds, and other kinds of baby talk by the time they are 4 to 5 months old. When they are 12 to 18 months old, they may be able to speak at least one word. By age 2 years, normal children will readily construct two word sentences.
- Autistic children however do not pass through any of these stage of speech and language development. They mostly remain silent. Deficient or absent speech can be an indication of hearing problems. However such defects are easily diagnosed, even just after delivery.
- The pace of speech development tends to vary according to an individual child. Each child may reach the milestones of speech development at different ages; some tend to be slow while others are quite fast. However, complete lack of speech is abnormal and hence can be considered as a sign of autism in 2 year olds.
2. Absent or minimal eye contact
- Children generally tend to lack any kind of eye contact in the initial few months after birth. However, they begin looking directly into the eyes of the caregiver or the parent when they are nearly 3 months old. Children usually make eye contact when they are talked to, fed, or cuddled. If a child remains uninterested in looking at her/his parents or does not make any kind of eye contact, then it can be considered as a sign of autism in 2 year olds.
3. Absent or lack of response when their name is called out
- When children reach the age of 6 to 8 months, they begin responding to the sound of their names. However, children with autism do not show any kind of response when their names are called out. There are several times when children normally do not respond to their names as they are preoccupied in some kind of activity. However, failure to respond to one’s name occurs on a frequent basis, then it can be regarded as a sign of autism in 2 year olds.
4. Repetitive behavior
- Children generally cannot keep their attention focused on one specific thing for long periods of time; they can be easily distracted. However, this is not true with regards to autistic children. In fact, in their case, the exact opposite holds true. Children with autism tend to be obsessed to a specific object and can keep playing with it for many hours.
- One of the most prevalent behaviors observed in children with autism is that they like to line up objects, such as their toys, and become upset when anyone disturbs or tries to disrupt their formation. They may also throw uncontrollable temper tantrums on a frequent basis, as well as engage in repetitive behaviors like rocking back and forth, continuous flapping of the hands, tapping the feet, and licking the fingers. Occurrence of such behaviors can be considered as a sign of autism in 2 year olds.
5. Deficient interaction and resistance to touch
- Children with autism desist being touched by others and do not like to be picked up or held in the hands like other children. They may bend backwards if anyone tries to pick and hold them. Autistic children appear as if they are living in a world of their own. They do not like to play or interact with other children or their parents.
- As opposed to this, normal children continuously elicit attention seeking behaviors; they may keep seeking the attention of the parents or other children so that they can play. Autistic children detest sharing their toys with others and like to play on their own.
- In most cases, children begin recognizing their parents and other members of the family by the time they are 6 months old. They often smile and laugh when looking at them. Autistic children seldom or never smile when someone is talking to them or when sometime smiles at them. All these traits can be regarded as signs of autism in 2 year olds.
6. Regressive Autism
- Some children tend to have normal growth and development in the initial few months. Later, they may abruptly lose their social or language skills. This is referred to as regressive autism and it can occur in 2 year olds.
There is no cure for autism. Early intervention programs, language therapy, speech therapy, special education, behavioral therapy, and cognitive therapy, etc. can however assist in the development of language and social as well as improve cognitive abilities.
Epilepsy, gastric ailments, sleep disorders, and other kinds of conditions associated with autism can be treated with medications.