17 Things You Didn't Know Were Linked To Autism

Autism is a brain-based condition that affects a lot of children and their families. There currently is no cure or understanding as to what causes autism. However, if a child is diagnosed with symptoms of being within the autism spectrum, there is still hope.

There are some behaviors that a parent can look out for, that may point out signs of possible autism in a child. There is no need to panic, as some behaviors that a child may exhibit, may eventually cease. Kids do go through a lot of growing up and varying phases during their development.

Autism affects kids from early on in their childhood. The severity of the condition, shows itself in a range of various difficulties in social-interaction and communication. If children grow up showing a sharp unwillingness to interact with other children, adults, and animals, and difficulty using language, it may be due to autism.

Although there is no cure, the challenges that autism presents can be treated. The condition is a lifelong one, and requires a proper medical diagnosis. No one should jump to conclusions about a child's behavior. Despite challenges, many children, adults, and families affected by autism live fulfilling and vibrant lives.

17 Fevers During Pregnancy

Researchers have been studying pregnant women around the globe, and there has been a startling connection to fevers and autism. If a woman has a fever at all during pregnancy, there is a significant increased risk that her child will be on the autism spectrum. There is considerable focus on fevers caused by infections, and the unique effect on an unborn child's development.

The second trimester is the most critical for unborn babies, as mothers who have three or more fevers during that time, possibly offer an increased risk of their children displaying autism up to 40%. The Researchers, such as those at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health think there is a connection between a mom's immune system response, interfering and influencing fetal brain development.

16 Child Has Sensitivity To Noise, Smells, And Textures

Touching, smelling, and hearing are three major senses that humans employ to interact with their world. Children who may be displaying signs of being on the autism spectrum, may behave in a different way when faced with certain things. Sometimes, something as simple as a telephone ring, a fan spinning, or a velvety coat sleeve may trigger a child to behave strangely.

When a child is introduced to something new, there may be reason for a startled reaction, a laugh, or even a shout. However, if a child is rocking back and forth with hands over their ears, or fleeing in terror anytime they encounter certain audio or visual stimuli, it may be worth taking notice. Autism can make it challenging to deal with certain physical sensations.

15 Extreme Attachments To Objects

Children can find the most ordinary things used in everyday life fascinating. Something as simple as a wooden spoon, a shoe, or a roll of tape can capture the interest of a growing tot. However, if a child is extremely attached to an a-typical toy, such as an office supply or kitchen object, it is understandable if a parent begins to raise an eyebrow.

If a child is kicking and screaming if an odd object is pulled away from them, or they need to arrange their toys or objects the same way every day, autism might be rearing its head. The autism spectrum causes a compulsive need to routinely arrange things in a specific way, or have a severe attachment to random objects.

14 Parent's Affection Is Rejected

There is nothing quite like getting a hug from a little one, or giving a child a reassuring hug of comfort and safety. However, kids that may be on the autism spectrum may reject such signs of affection. A child demonstrating their sense of independence and not forcing a child to hug is one thing, but breaking out into a fit over touch could be a sign of autism.

No, everyone is not huggy-touchy, but touch is one of the many ways that developing children learn about their world and connect to others. If a child is always squirming or crying about getting a hug, pulls away quickly if someone tries to touch them, or seems stoic, there might be reason for concern.

13 Change In Routines Will Cause Temper Tantrum

Children do thrive off of consistency and look forward to regular routines. However, if a child goes into a fit of rage and begins a temper tantrum if there is a significant change in a routine, parents might want to be concerned. A child becoming extremely upset over a change in routine, may not mean that they have a spoiled brat on their hands.

Routines make children who are on the autism spectrum feel safe and secure. There is a compulsive need to have certain actions take place, the same way, everyday, all the time in order to feel complete. If something goes awry from the plan, the brain has a meltdown, and a child may have a serious tantrum as a result.

12 Rocking Back And Forth For Comfort

Kids often need things to help them feel calm, safe, or to even stay focused. If a child is repeatedly using the same movement over and over, such as rocking back and forth with knees drawn to their chest, or seeming to arbitrarily wave their hand in a jerking fashion, they might be demonstrating “stimming.”

The behavior known as “stimming” is not a reason for serious alarm, but it could be a sign of autism spectrum. Children who feel a need to make a repeated bodily motion, may be doing so to feel safe, comfortable, or while trying to concentrate on something. An outsider may see such behavior as off-putting, but autism is a brain disorder which can create a range of actions to deal with the outside world.

11 Repeats The Same Words Or Phrases

Close up of unhappy toddler girl crying in park with wind blowing in hair

Children are so creative, as they enjoy coming up with new words and terms to define things, which may sound funny to adults. In addition to learning one or two words as a child develops their language skills, eventually a child demonstrates their understanding by putting their newfound vocabulary to use.

However, kids who fall on the autism spectrum may interpret language and its use a little differently. Autism does make it a challenge, but not impossible, to communicate effectively with others.

When a child is found repeating the same words or phrases, as if a parrot, in response to people and things, it may be a sign of autism. A diagnosis from a professional should be strongly considered. Treatment can be shown to effectively deal with certain anomalies in communication with others.

10 Fails To Make Eye Contact

Sometimes kids are just a little shy. Although it is good for a child to be cautious of strangers, if a child fails to make eye contact when called, there might be a problem. Since autism is a disorder which causes difficulties for children to communicate with others, the inability to respond to others in the surrounding environment can be a big red flag.

Signs to look out for include, a child who always turns their head away when called, seems despondent, and is unusually quiet. Usually, a developing child will look forward to following a toy in someone's hand, or follow pets and adults who interact with them.

If this doesn't happen, a physician may need to be consulted.

9 Refers To Self In Third-Person

If a child is always referring to themselves by their given name, or uses the wrong pronoun to describe themselves in conversation, a parent should seek professional help, if a child persists. The mistake of using the wrong pronoun or describing themselves in third-person, can be a huge challenge with communicating effectively for children affected by the autism disorder.

The brain is a complex thing, that professionals the world over still continue to study and seek to understand. When it comes to conversation and interacting with others, an autistic child may have a challenging time enough. Understanding the mechanics of language, and seeking to be understood, can make choosing the right word for the job even more difficult for an autistic child. Patience is a virtue.

8 Spends Time Focusing On Objects

It's great when a child is being quiet and well-behaved. It is even more fascinating if a child has a great attention span, and seems almost peacefully zen-like while focusing on an object. However, if a child is often found alone, spacing out with an odd object or even a favorite toy, parents should take notice.

Children who display signs of the autism spectrum, might be found sitting with a stoic expression on their face, quietly but intently focused on something as simple as a block, or a fish tank. It is important that a child breaks up their day with different types of interactions. Parents should pay attention to their child't behavior, if there is an inability to break away from their focus.

7 Facial Expressions Don't Match Conversation

Social interaction with children and adults can be a challenge, especially if the facial expressions used are not in tune with the conversation. Children who may be displaying symptoms of autism may have this problem. A child telling a sad story might be smiling, or showing now expression at all. A child talking excitedly about their pet might have a disturbed or angry look on their face.

As autism is a brain disorder that significantly affects social interaction, and communication with others, many with autism are unable to connect the dots between their words and displayed behavior. Thankfully, treatment is possible with behavior therapy, and a bit of patience. It is critical to get diagnosis from a medical professional, and work carefully with a child developing their social and communication skills.

6 Unable To Verbally Communicate

Parents may beam over having a child who doesn't say much, and onlookers might praise a quiet child as being “good.” However, if a child refuses or seems frustrated and unable to verbally communicate, there might be reason to be concerned. Some children who are later diagnosed with autism, display language skills early, but then relapse and use only non-verbal communication.

If a child runs away from playing 'naming games,' has difficulty using simple one or two-word phrases, or is often too quiet, even for a well-behaved tot, parents should consider consulting their child's pediatrician. All kids have varying ranges of normal, and some hit their milestones earlier than others, but it is good to err on side of caution.

5 Strange Way Of Walking

Children may enjoy pretending to walk like an elephant, stagger about like a zombie, or make up a funny way to get around. If a child is displaying a very awkward way of walking, such as dragging their foot behind them, while an arm is drawn up to their chest, or they are “stimming” while walking sideways, with head cocked, a parent has good reason to be worried.

Many children who suffer autism develop unique ways of walking, which is not a cry for attention, it is simply a matter of the brain's wiring and interpretation of information. Behavior therapy and other medical professionals can create treatments to help intervene, and assist a child to exhibit more 'normalized' walking and behavior.

4 Constantly Wakes Up Throughout The Night

Sometimes it is not a nightmare or a hungry tummy that is keeping a child from sleeping through the night. If a child is constantly waking up in the night, autism might be the culprit. Children who are on the autism spectrum, often display in an inability to sleep soundly. It is common for children with autism to wake up 3 to 4 times in the night, causing sleep problems for everyone in the family.

If there is a concern over the quality and amount of sleep that a child is not getting, a pediatrician should be consulted. Healthy sleep habits can be encouraged with a consistent schedule and some patience. Concerned parents should keep track of a child's habits and behaviors, to better understand what might be the problem.

3 Isn't Aware Of Surroundings

AN5M90 Small boy daydreaming

Many kids enjoy playing pretend and daydreaming up various stories and characters. A child may enjoy spending time in their day, quietly engaging their imagination and spending time alone. However, if a child is spending a lot of time alone, is very quiet, and doesn't stop what they are doing to respond to their name being called, pets, or sounds and sights around them, there might be a problem.

The autism spectrum creates a low awareness of a child's surroundings. It is as if a child is unable to or simply blocks out the rest of the world around them, even if the world around them wants to interact with them. The brain interprets the information of people, animals, and things differently.

2 Doesn't Play Make-Believe

The magic of childhood is usually infused with playing 'pretend' games, gathering with friends, and making forts or having tea. However, if a child refuses to play with others, or shows a strong disinterest in wanting to use their imagination to play, there might be an issue. In order to enjoy playing with others and using the imagination, communication skills and a desire to interact with the world has to be present.

Children who display signs of autism have a difficulty in making a connection to others. So, even if a child has a vibrant imagination, it may be a challenge to verbally or non-verbally get along with other children for playtime. Tactile sensation issues and lack of eye contact can make pretend time scary for an autistic child.

1 Doesn't Imitate Facial Expressions

Children learn a lot form imitation. Children pick up on the appropriate gestures, politeness, and other vital forms of communication and interaction with others via their parents and siblings. The autism spectrum affects children, by creating an inability to connect to others, making it difficult and seemingly unnecessary to imitate other's facial expressions. There may be difficulty understanding other's emotions as well.

If a child never smiles back when someone is smiling at them, doesn't cry when another child is in pain or sad, and just looks at everything and everyone with a glossed over look, parents understandably should have some concern. Facial expressions are a significant form of communication. Autism makes it very difficult for those affected to make sense or see value in another's expression or gestures. Behavioral therapy can help.

Sources: Autism Speaks, Psychology Today, CDC

More in What?