Moms and dads should ask their youngster’s doctor for referral to a developmental pediatrician for assessment if there are concerns with any of the following...
Communication Red Flags:
- Loss of any language or social skills at any age
- No babbling by 11 months of age
- No response when name is called, causing concern about hearing
- No simple gestures by 12 months (e.g., waving bye-bye)
- No single words by 16 months
- No two-word phrases by 24 months (noun + verb – e.g., “baby sleeping”)
Behavioral Red Flags:
- Compulsions or rituals (has to perform activities in a special way or certain sequence; is prone to tantrums if rituals are interrupted)
- Lacks interest in toys, or plays with them in an unusual way (e.g., lining up, spinning, opening/closing parts rather than using the toy as a whole)
- Odd or repetitive ways of moving fingers or hand
- Oversensitive to certain textures, sounds or lights
- Preoccupations with unusual interests, such as light switches, doors, fans, wheels
- Unusual fears
Social Red Flags:
- Avoids or ignores other children when they approach
- Does not play peek-a-boo
- Doesn’t make attempts to get parent’s attention; doesn’t follow/look when someone is pointing at something
- Doesn’t point to show things he/she is interested in
- Doesn’t respond to parent’s attempts to play, even if relaxed
- More interested in looking at objects than at people’s faces
- Prefers to play alone
- Rarely makes eye contact when interacting with people
- Rarely smiles socially
- Seems to be “in his/her own world”
Are you wondering whether or not your pre-school aged youngster has Aspergers (high-functioning autism)? Take this simple little quiz:
- Are they attracted to shows like Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy?
- Are they fascinated with numbers and letters?
- Do they lack the ability to play "with" other children interactively?
- Do they like to line objects up in rows?
- Do they like to watch the same movie over and over again?
- Do they seem unafraid of things that they should be afraid of?
- Do they shun away from being touched or arch their back when held?
- Do they spin objects around and around?
- Do they walk up or down stairs always leading with the same foot?
- Is it hard for them to make eye contact or they simply don't?
- Is their speech repetitive, like an echo?
If you notice some or multiple signs in your child, write them down. Your concerns and observations are of great value for your pediatrician or professionals who are trying to diagnose your child.
Is it ADHD or Aspergers?
1. Discuss your concerns with your youngster's teacher. Kids who have ADHD and Aspergers often act very differently at school than they do at home due to over stimulation. Your youngster's teacher can offer important information that can lead to a proper diagnosis.
2. Notice if the youngster can stay focused under certain circumstances. Kids with Aspergers can sit still for long periods of time if they are interested in something. For example, they can still to watch a movie they are interested in or stay focused on a computer activity they enjoy. Kids who have ADHD will have trouble focusing on an activity even if they are interested in it.
3. Observe your youngster's behavior. Is your youngster's erratic behavior an everyday thing or is it in response to a traumatic event? All kids are hyper sometimes but a divorce or the death of a family member can cause kids to act out. Generally, if the behavior lasts for more than six months, it may be due to a disorder.
4. See how the youngster responds to medications and other behavior modification treatments. There are a number of medications to treat kids who are hyper active. But generally, you can find a medication to help calm a youngster who has ADHD. Kids who have Aspergers will not be calmed by medications such as Ritalin and Adderall. This is a big red flag since nearly every youngster who is diagnosed with Aspergers is initially diagnosed with ADHD.
5. Understand the differences between ADHD and Aspergers. Kids who have Aspergers typically engage in repetitive behavior, have a hard time dealing with change and are so inner-focused that they may appear to be self absorbed. Kids who have ADHD have a hard time focusing and sitting still but tend to be more aware of their surroundings than kids with Aspergers.
The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook