Unlike many ailments, autism can vary significantly in severity and manner of presentation. While some children are almost immediately identifiable as suffering from autism or one of its related spectrum disorders, other children do not exhibit such obvious signs and instead only give off minor indications of their autistic status, making the diagnosis process even more challenging.
The Autism Diagnosis Process
When a doctor suspects autism, he may perform an assortment of observation-based tests. Through the administration of these tests, he determines whether or not the child suffers from autism and, if the child is impacted by the ailment, just how severe his symptoms are. As the National Institute of Mental Health reports, some of the syndromes that make up the family of autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger's syndrome and Rett syndrome, are harder to spot than full-blown cases of autism, as the signs of these disorders are more minor and easy to miss.
Lack of Imaginative Play
If your child shies away from playing store with his friends or seems hesitant to try out different jobs through imaginative play, he may suffer from a minor form of autism. Many autistic children not only do not show an interest in imaginative play, but also rebel against efforts to get them to engage in play of this type.
Because autism is a communication disorder, the first indication of autism generally come from a child's unwillingness to socialize or lack of interest in forming friendly bonds. While some children shy away from all contact, others who suffer from less severe forms of autism may engage in some contact with friends and family members, yet still fail to form meaningful relationships. Children who exhibit this minor autism sign may go undiagnosed for an extended period of time as a result of the nature of their minor symptoms.
As a parent, you likely try to get your child on a routine. While many children rebel against this routine, trying constantly to thwart your attempts to get them into bed or avoid picking up their toys, children with autism are likely to not only go along with this routine, but also thrive in your routine-rich world. If your kid seems to appreciate and live by your established routine, he may be showing signs of an autism spectrum disorder.
What to Do
In most cases, doctors first suspect autism because parents voice concerns, reports MayoClinic.com. If you notice signs that you feel may indicate the presence of autism, share your concerns with your doctor immediately. The sooner you begin the diagnosis process and ultimately diagnose your tot, the sooner you can begin to help him overcome the autism-related challenges that he will face.