Children are increasingly being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at higher rates than previous years. It can look different at different stages of life. But what does it look like preschoolers? Here are some behaviors to look out for. Remember, if you are concerned, please seek out an early childhood specialist, such as a psychologist, to get a clear diagnosis. Signs in Language Development
- Young children are learning to talk. So they remember words, and then forget words. They make up words. This is typical. Some children who are suspected of having ASD have words, and then lose them. But, they don’t regain those words. They may use language in their own way, such as calling a “cookie” a “coocoo.” These children are resistant to changing their language.
- Young children tend to repeat words just for the sake of repeating them. This, too, can be a normal part of language development. Children repeat words, as a way to grasp what the sounds are or how their mouth moves. But children showing signs of having ASD have no obvious intention for repeating words. For instance, they might hear someone say a phrase like “Do you want a cookie?” and repeat it over and over again. They aren’t looking for a cookie; they are just repeating the phrases.
- Children with ASD tend to play by themselves, their own games, even when most of their other same-aged peers have moved on to a more parallel or cooperative play.
- They may be interested in parts of a toy, playing with it in ways that are unintended, such as spinning the wheels of a truck over and over again. They may lay on their head, looking at the truck out of the side of their eye.
- Their toys may have to be laid out in a certain manner, according to their own organizational rules. They may play with their hands or body in ways that other children don’t, such as flapping, rocking, moving their fingers near their eyes.