When many people think of autism, they may think of children or individuals with severe motor control issues or other clearly visible signs, largely thanks to this type of portrayal in the media. More recently, however, people may have become more familiar with the term “on the spectrum”, which much more accurately describes the scope and range of autistic behaviors. In fact, some children may have such mild autism that many of their behaviors are not even recognized as being autistic. This lack of awareness often means that children do not get the treatment and understanding that they need. Here are three behavioral indicators that might actually be signs of autism in kids and teens.
Low to No Social Skills
Overall, children tend to be highly observant when it comes to watching social interactions and picking up on social cues. After all, they are trying to find their place in the world and are highly aware of their dependence on adults. Children with autism, however, may be completely unaware of the social cues either adults or other children give off. They may also seem to lack the basic curiosity of other children and may blurt out inappropriate things at inappropriate times, with little to no awareness (even after the fact) that what they said was inappropriate.
Some children with autism might be particularly good at masking their lack of social awareness by mimicking the behaviors and speech patterns of their peers. While many autistic children struggle to maintain eye contact, it is a misconception that this is always the case. Pay close attention to their behaviors.
Obsessive Behaviors or an Inability to Tolerate Change
Children with autism often thrive on structure and order. They may play with only a few toys and play with them exactly the same way every time. They may want exactly the same food prepared exactly the same way every day, or they may be constantly lining things up or arranging them meticulously. When things change or are different, they may display aggression or possibly have a severe meltdown, which can include harming themselves. When these types of behaviors happen, a facility that specializes in working with autistic youth, like Springbrook Behavioral Health, can help.
Obsessive Attention or Lack of Attention
Children with autism can be obsessed with certain things but their obsession for one thing means they have little interest in anything else. While many children will seem to bounce from passion to passion, children with autism can get locked onto one thing and no amount of enticement will shake them loose.
Unfortunately, autistic behaviors can often be mistaken for bad behavior. Unlike actual bad behavior, autistic behaviors cannot be changed through punishment or discipline. If parents do not recognize autistic behaviors for what they are, they may also feel a sense of despair or failure as a parent. Recognizing autistic tendencies for what they are can bring relief for both parents and their autistic child.