Autism in Babies – Signs, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

6 min read

Written by Aparna Hari

Aparna Hari

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.

Autism in Babies

Autism in babies is a condition that negatively impacts their interactions. Also, the baby finds it to be a hefty task to form a relationship with the world. This disorder is seen in 1 out of every 54 children. Furthermore, autistic babies show a wide range of signs and symptoms – decreasing eye contact, little to no response to being called, muted expressions on their faces, and so forth.

Thus, once you’re aware of these symptoms, watch out for them, and if you have even a small doubt that your baby may be autistic, take them to a pediatrician immediately. Other than this, the causes of autism can be varied – genetic, being born from older parents, the mother having diabetes, etc. Moreover, autism can be diagnosed and treated with proper screenings. But there are no therapies that can cure autism.

In This Article

What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition where a person’s interactions, communications and behaviors are affected. And all this happens when the individual is growing up. The CDC has found that autism can be noted in 1 out of every 54 children. While it’s true that boys are more affected by this disease than girls, still, it’s common in all ethnic and socio-economic groups.

Major Causes of Autism in Babies

Causes of Autism

As of now, there is no single known cause of autism in babies. But the general consensus is that this occurs due to abnormalities in the structure and functioning of the brain. Having said that, here are some possible causes of autism.

  • Genetics
  • Disorders such as Fragile x syndrome or Rett syndrome
  • Family history
  • Being born to older parents
  • Exposure to toxins, pesticides, chemicals and other pollutants
  • Low birth weight
  • Oxygen deprivation at birth
  • Metabolic conditions
  • Brain connectivity disparities
  • Immune disorders
  • Conditions such as obesity, diabetes or immune disorders in the mother
  • Mother consuming medications such as valproic acid or thalidomide during pregnancy

Top 4 Signs and Symptoms of Autism in Babies

Symptoms of Autism in Babies

An autistic baby will not look different. But the baby finds it different to relate to and communicate with the world that surrounds them. And because autism is a disorder with largely distinct signs and symptoms, it’s known as a “spectrum” condition. Take your baby to a health care professional if any of the mentioned signs and symptoms come to your attention.

1. Decreasing Eye-contact

At around 2 months of age, babies usually learn to find faces with their eyes and make eye contact. And eye contact paves the way for them to create good relationships and collect information from their surrounding places. Furthermore, if infants who are not good at making eye contact well at even 2 months of age, then, it may mean that they have autism.

2. Declining Pointing and Gesturing

Before your little one begins to speak, they communicate with you through gestures. If a baby is not using gestures and pointing at things or people, there may be chances of autism or even language delay. Moreover, your baby’s gaze won’t pinpoint the place where you are pointing at. And such skill is known as “joint attention”, which is reduced in babies with autism.

[Read : When Do Babies Recognize Their Name?]

3. Limited or No Reply to Being Called by Their Name

When babies become at least 6 months old, they reply to their names by gestures, expressions, or voices. And researchers have seen that infants with autism typically don’t respond to their names by 9 months, and later they develop autism. Moreover, this non-responding happens in a pattern and not just one or two times.

4. Facial Expressions Show Fewer Emotions

Autistic children do feel the same level of emotions as children do. But studies on school children have discovered that a lot of their emotions don’t manifest through their facial expressions.

Diagnosis of Autism in Babies

If the baby is showing any signs or symptoms of autism, it is recommended that you take them to screenings and diagnosis. The doctor will conduct evaluation tests based on observing the baby and asking you questions regarding the baby’s responses to various stimuli and whether they are reaching their milestones.

According to the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), the baby should go through an assessment of their development in all their visits. Further, you should take them to development delay screenings at 9th, 18th, 24th and 30th month. It is advisable that ASD-specific screenings take place when the baby is between 18 and 24 months old.

[Read : Developmental Delays in Babies]

Treatment Options For Autism in Babies

[Read : Developmental Delays in Babies] Treatment For Autism in Babies

There are a lot of therapies which help autistic children to keep up with their daily activities. Due to the varied nature of autism, the most effective way to cope with this is a multimodal approach.

Here’s a list of some of the most renowned therapies. Taking your baby’s autism symptoms into consideration, your doctor may recommend one or more of these therapies mentioned.

  • Speech therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Nutrition therapy
  • Social skills training
  • Joint attention therapy
  • Medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Educational interventions
  • Occupational therapy
  • Behavior management therapies

A Word For the Parents With Autism Babies

Stop blaming yourself for your little one’s autism. Parents whose children are showing some signs and symptoms of autism often start blaming themselves. This is not at all true, your baby’s autism didn’t happen because of you, it was simply not in anyone’s hands.

Doing these things will help you.

  • Make a connection with other parents with the help of support groups
  • Try to take extra training in ASD – it will minimize your stress
  • Seek a counsellor or a therapist, they will give you some coping skills so that you pass through your days with ease
  • Express yourself through writing your thoughts, and manage your stress with mindfulness, stress management techniques, etc

When your baby is very young, you may notice these signs if they are going to develop autism.

  • Less or eye contact
  • No attention
  • Very less or no expressions of emotions on their face
  • Insufficient language or lack of language abilities
  • Doesn’t respond to name
  • Doesn’t point and gesture

Rush to your baby’s pediatrician immediately if you notice these signs and symptoms of autism in your baby. Just like any other disorder, the interventions and treatments are the most effective when the symptoms are diagnosed and treated while they are still fresh.

Other than that, autism in babies indeed has no cure, but the therapies that can provide great outcomes in the form of increased skills, less anxiety, and overall well-being of the child. Just the way you care for your child’s health, you should also be mindful of your health because stress and anxiety can affect your well-being.

FAQ’s

1. Do Babies With Autism Clap?

Autistic babies do respond with gestures, voices, claps, etc. But the frequency is very low.

2. Do Vaccines Cause Autism in Babies?

No, vaccines do not cause autism. There has been a lot of misinformation that vaccines cause autism. However, there is enough research to squash these rumors. Researchers didn’t find any link between autism and vaccines in childhood.

3. Do Babies With Autism Smile?

Babies with autism smile less as compared to normal babies.

4. Do Autistic Babies Look Different?

No. Autistic babies don’t look different. They simply find it harder to communicate and connect to their nearby world.

5. Does Autism in Babies Come From the Mother or Father?

The baby inherits genes from the mother and father. So, if autism is developing because of genetics, then, they can either inherit it from their mother or father. It’s also possible that they get it from both of their parents.

Read Also: Coping With Autism

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Aparna Hari,MBA in Marketing,P.G. Diploma in Human Resource Management from IGNOU Bachelor of Sciences (Home Science) from Nagarjuna University

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.Read more.

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