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Autism: How to notice signs of autism in young children

As guardians and parents, it’s important to be able to recognise neurodiverse signs in children, to provide them with the best start in life. So let's learn a bit more about this together:

First, and most importantly,

What does neurodiverse mean?

A neurodivergent person is described as someone who suffers from a neurological development that is regarded as different to fellow neurotypicals. It’s important to understand that neurodivergent people do not have a deficit – it simply means the brain functions differently. Neurodivergence refers to cognitive and learning disabilities. One of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders, affecting 1 in 100 people in the UK, is autism.

Therefore, what is autism?

Autistic people have communication difficulties, narrow interests and perform repetitive behaviour.

It’s important to realise that the first signs of autism can become clear from the age of 2. Young babies may not smile when parents smile at them and may not speak until after the age of 2.

Signs of autism in young children include:

  • Failure to respond to their name.

  • Lack of eye contact.

  • Not smiling when you smile at them

  • Repetitive behaviour, such as hands flapping, body rocking, spinning, repetition of words/phrases, headbanging, etc.

  • Limited communication.

Your child may also develop other conditions too such as Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, dyspraxia and dyslexia.

What should I do if I think my child is displays signs of autism?

You could speak to:

  • A GP

  • A health visitor (for children under 5)

  • The SENCO staff at your child’s school or nursery - Ducklings has two area SENCO coordinators, as well a site-specific SENCO coordinator, so we're happy to help

  • A child psychiatrist, psychologist, neurologist and speech pathologist

Receiving a diagnosis for your child may be distressing, but please remember that autism is not a disease or illness. Autistic children are very known to be creative, have incredible analysis skills and become deeply concentrated when focusing on something they love (known as a special interest!).

Nobody knows for sure what causes autism, but it is never the fault of the parents/guardians.

For guidance and support, check out these fantastic resources:

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