Does My Preschool Daughter Have High-Functioning Autism?

"How can a parent tell whether or not her preschool daughter has high functioning autism? I’m beginning to have my suspicions!"

There is no single, uniform presenting picture of High-Functioning Autism (HFA) in the first 3-4 years of life. The early picture may be difficult to distinguish from typical autism, suggesting that when evaluating any young girl with autism with apparently normal intelligence, the possibility should be entertained that she may eventually have a picture more compatible with an HFA diagnosis.

Other girls may have early language delays with rapid "catch-up" between the ages of 3 and 5 years. Some of these young people (especially the brightest ones) may have no evidence of early developmental delay (with the possible exception of motor clumsiness).

In most cases, if you look closely at the girl between the age of about 3 and 5, clues to the disorder can be found, and in most cases a comprehensive evaluation at that age can at least point to a diagnosis somewhere along the spectrum.

Although these young people may seem to relate quite normally within the family setting, problems are often seen when they enter a preschool setting. For example:
  • appearing to be "in one's own little world"
  • difficulty regulating social/emotional responses with anger, aggression, or excessive anxiety
  • difficulty with transitions
  • having a preference for a set routine
  • having odd verbal responses
  • hyperactivity
  • problems sustaining simple conversations
  • tendency to avoid spontaneous social interactions
  • tendency to be perseverative or repetitive when conversing
  • tendency to over-focus on particular objects or subjects
  • tendency to show very weak skills in interactions

In reality, this list is much like the early symptoms of autism. But, compared to the autistic child, a girl with HFA is more likely to show some social interest in others, will have less abnormal language and conversational speech, and may not be as obviously "different" from her peers. Also, areas of particularly strong skills may be present (e.g., letter or number recognition, rote memorization of various facts, etc.).

More resources for parents of children and teens with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's:

==> How To Prevent Meltdowns and Tantrums In Children With High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's

==> Parenting System that Significantly Reduces Defiant Behavior in Teens with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

==> Launching Adult Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Guide for Parents Who Want to Promote Self-Reliance

==> Teaching Social Skills and Emotion Management to Children and Teens with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

==> Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism: Comprehensive Handbook

==> Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism: Audio Book

==> Parenting System that Reduces Problematic Behavior in Children with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

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