Symptoms of Aspergers Syndrome in Children
Let it be noted that many symptoms of Aspergers Syndrome in toddlers can be perfectly normal stages of childhood. However, there are certain things you can look for if you suspect your child has Aspergers Syndrome.
1. Your child might have a delay in speech. Many children with Aspergers are non-verbal in their beginning years. However, they may also have interesting first words that are more complex than expected. Instead of mama, they might instead first say staircase, or other strangely complex words for their age.
2. Aspergers Syndrome is often called “Little Professor Syndrome” for a reason. Your child might be interested in intellectual topics well beyond their years, and may even be obsessively knowledgable on their topics of choice. A neurotypical child might thing dinosaurs are 'cool.' An Aspergers child might think dinosaurs are cool and also know the Tyrannosaurus Rex was a carnivorous species that lived in the Cretaceous Period in the late Mesozoic Era. And they will probably want to know more, and also make sure you also know, whether or not you're interested.... a lot. This is kind of a cliché, but it is so for a reason. It may not be limited to dinosaurs (and probably won't be.) The child might have a fascination with batteries, or rocks, or subatomic particles. Depends on the kid.
3. Strange muscle tension. A lot of kids with Aspergers have very rigid or very lax muscle tension.
4. 'Strange' social skills and body language. Some kids with Aspergers Syndrome have a hard time expressing their feelings with their body and face. You might smile at your child and in return receive a grimace. Your child doesn't hate you, they think they are smiling. A lot of social cues and expressions that come completely instinctively to a neurotypical have to be consciously learned by a child with autism. They may not notice when someone is angry or disinterested in what they are saying, or if they do, may be very confused by it.
5. Clumsiness. Proprioceptivity- or knowing where your body is in relationship with the rest of the world is a commonly a little off with autistic children. They might walk into walls, stub their toes, etc a lot.
6. Wandering. Autistic kids tend to wander away. This can be cause for concern for a parent, for obvious reasons.
7. Stimming- (self-stimulation) repetitive movements and sounds that the child makes to soothe themselves that tend to become more apparent when they are under stress. A stereotypical stim is hand-flapping, but it could be anything. It could be yips, a leg jiggle, a finger snap... literally just about anything.
8. Meltdowns- nearly inconsolable 'tantrums' on steroids. I wrote an article on this earlier. A quick search for “tantrums from autistic” in the Moms.com search bar should lead you to this article.
9. Sensory issues- if loud noises, bright lights, huge crowds, tight collars, or mushy vegetables seem to freak out your child significantly more than expected, you might have a child with autism on your hands.
10. Different speech patterns- Autistic kids often speak in monotone, or very quickly, and their words often seem very well thought out.
11. Taking things very literally. A lot of autistic kids have difficulty with understanding metaphor and hyperbole. Concrete thinking is very common because children with Aspergers Syndrome are generally highly logical beings.
If you suspect your child has autism, a diagnosis can help... But remember, it takes every puzzle piece to make the world go 'round. Aspergers Syndrome is probably a big reason I can type this to you on the computer right now, call your cellphone, and watch movies streamed right to my TV. Oh... and working lights. It might seem like a heavy burden, and can be hard on everyone involved, but Aspergers Syndrome is also usually a blessing in disguise.
Make sure to find a therapist who accepts your child for who they are because molding an autistic child into neurotypical stereotypes is going to be resentment city and normalcy will probably be feigned by the child rather than the actual necessary skills learned. Help them function as themselves in a world that can be rather difficult, for anyone, Aspie and neurotypical alike.