Autism can be very difficult to recognize, and diagnose, due to the fact that disease has such a broad spectrum. As a result, some symptoms can go unnoticed for long periods of time. Every child with autism has unique abilities, symptoms, and challenges, and understanding those can enable you as a parent to better work with teachers, therapists and doctors to help your child.

As mentioned above, autism is a spectrum disorder, and so the symptoms can vary widely by child. However, with that being said, every child on the autism spectrum has some degree of problem with the following:

– Communicating verbally and non-verbally
– Relating to others and the world around them
– Thinking and behaving flexibly

There is still great debate on what causes autism, and therefore on what is the best course of action to treat it. But one thing that doctors and therapists can all agree on is the sooner it is treated, the better.

As a parent, you know your child better than anyone in the world, and are there before in the best position to spot any potential problems your child may have, including any symptoms of autism. The key is to educate yourself about what to expect in the development of your child, so you can recognize what is normal, and what is not. If you think something is wrong, trust your instincts, and speak to your child's pediatrician immediately. Do not accept a wait and see approach.

Signs and symptoms of autism in infants and toddlers

Autism can be difficult to diagnoseose before 24 months, however symptoms will often surface between the ages of 12 to 18 months.While not a comprehensive list, some symptoms to look out for include:

• A lack of eye contact
• Does not smile when smiled at
• Does not follow objects or gestures visually
• Does not imitate the facial expressions of others
• Does not play with other people, or share interest or enjoyment

Signs and symptoms of autism in older children

As your child grows older, the signs of autism become more diverse. While there are many warning signs, they all revolve around impaired social skills, speech and language difficulties, non-verbal communication difficulties, and inflexible behavior.

• Impaired social skills: social interaction of any kind can be very difficult for children with autism. Instead of spending time with others, they will often prefer to retreat into their own world, and spend time on their own. They will also seem deterred from others.

• Speech and language difficulties: children with autism will have difficulty with speech and language, and its patterns. They will also often begin speaking later in life.

• Non-verbal communication difficulties: children with autism will have difficulty picking up on non-verbal cues, or the body language of others. They will not be able to recognize these cues in others, but will also use them themselves.

• Inflexible behavior: children with autism are often restricted, inflexible, and even obsessive in their behaviors, activities, and interests.

If you suspect your child may have the above symptoms, it is time to see their doctor or therapist to discuss your options.