Autism, or autism spectrum disorders, is a condition marked by varied and numerous developmental disabilities. Its diagnosis is thus not entirely dependent on the presence of certain causative factors, but is rather based on achievement of varied developmental milestones. The disorder may thus remain undiagnosed in children as well as adults with mild autism signs. This in turn may result in delayed treatment which prevents a person from living a better quality of life.
It is believed that autism is caused due to varied genetic and environmental factors. Unlike persons with normal autism, patients with mild autism signs may show, or develop in the future, normal intelligence, sufficient speech, and relatively higher levels of functioning. Studies have indicated that early treatment can help those with mild autism to recover from the condition.
The three main types of autism spectrum disorders are Asperger’s syndrome, autistic disorder, and PDD-NOS/pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified. The last one is the mildest type of autism.
Mild autism signs
Autistic children will seem as if they are lost in some other world; they do not pay heed to the people and situations around them. They may usually experience delayed development of traits such as playing, talking, and communicating with others. Parents may look out for the below listed mild autism signs and accordingly consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment if needed.
In preschool children and toddlers
- The child does not become familiar with your voice. He/she may not show any response to his/her name being called out, or to your voice, or to the normal sounds occurring around her/him.
- The child may not follow your gaze or your finger to look at the object that you are pointing to. He/she may totally avoid eye contact or display/maintain it to a limited level.
- Normal children tend to smile or babble when parents or others talk to them. Autistic infants will remain preoccupied in their current activity and not show any response to your talk. It is one of the classic signs of mild autism. They will have a blank stare, remain fully focused on playing with their toys, and stay oblivious of the happenings around them.
- Autistic children may have some tolerance for pain. However, they may be very sensitive towards loud noises, light, and/or touch.
- Unlike normal babies, autistic children may not engage in varied gestures such as pointing, waving, and playing or tugging at your hand or your clothes. They may also desist being held in the arms or cuddling.
Consult a doctor when you notice the below listed warning signs of mild autism:
- Lack of or nil incidences of happy expressions or smiles, even after six months
- No imitation of sounds or facial expressions, even after nine months.
- Minimal or absence of pointing, waving, and other gestures even after twelve months.
- No baby talk or babbling even after twelve months
- Lack of speech or words spoken even after sixteen months
- Absence of 2-word phrases by 2 years.
During early childhood
- Autistic children may elicit abnormal social development. They have a tendency to remain aloof and have very little communication with other children. They desist shared activities and remain uninterested in the tasks of other children. They may hit other children and display minimal sensitivity towards them. Difficulties in making friends or starting a conversation may also be observed. After starting a conversation, the autistic child may not continue the interaction for more than some time.
- Another mild autism sign in children is delays in the development of language. Unlike most normal children who start speaking two-word phrases by age 2 years, autistic children may not show any kind of speech or may start speaking very late. Sometimes, they may commence the construction of minor sentences but may lose the ability after some months. They may use their name in constructed sentences to refer to themselves, instead of using a 1st person pronoun. They may also display a tendency to speak in irregular tones and rhythms. They may easily follow visual directions but may not be as good in understanding easy verbal directions.
- Autistic children may display behavior that is repetitive. They may continuously keep flapping their hands, licking their fingers, tapping their feet, and rocking forwards and backwards. Their speech may also be riddled with repetitiveness, or it may contain only some words that are continuously repeated. The child may not know or comprehend the interpretation or meaning of such speech. Affected children tend to form specific routines. When it gets disturbed, they may get upset and frustrated and engage in self-harming violent behavior such as biting themselves or banging their head.
- Poor conversation and communication skills is the most prevalent form of mild sign of autism in adults. It can cause relationship problems and lack of job opportunities.
- Adults with Asperger’s syndrome may experience problems in social situations and social interaction as well as inability to make small talk. The scathing reactions of others to the weird behavior of the patients may result in low self-esteem.
- Preference for solitude, living alone, and loneliness
- Deficient empathy for others
- Problems in expressing feelings, maintaining eye contact, comprehending non-verbal cues, and showing physical emotions.
- Uneasiness when hugged or touched.
- Interest or aptitude in a particular field
- Problems in taking care of oneself
- Social ineptness. Being in a social situation can be quite overwhelming for patients.
- Obsessive or compulsive behaviors
- Reduced or absent intimacy
- Deficient conversation. The speech may be repetitive or stereotyped.
- Disruption of schedules can cause anger or panic
- Trivial or even non-existent matters may cause extreme anxiety. Increased irritability when experiencing high emotions.
- Impaired dating skills and sexual affairs
- Autism has no known cure. Early intervention programs, special education, language and speech therapy, behavioral and cognitive therapy, and other relevant therapies can however help in the development of social and language skills and enhanced cognitive abilities.
- Drugs to treat gastric conditions, epilepsy, sleep disorders, and other associated underlying ailments.
- Depression and anxiety can be regulated with prescription medications. This treatment option is dependent on the age of the patient.