"How does an autistic child look? What are their interests?"
Most parents would agree that babies and children bring hopes of revived love and affection. Typically young children are the most innocent humans we ever interact with. However, with the recent prevalence of autism spectrum disorder, parents are growing more concerned about their children's health and wellbeing. A question commonly asked is; how does an autistic child look? What are their interests? While there are some signs commonly observed in autistic children, the first piece of advice for a parent is to avoid making an autism conclusion. Give the child a decent amount of time and if you trust your gut feeling, you can check with an autism specialist. Jumping to an autism conclusion can be self frustrating and treacherous. Consider a shy child with a natural dislike of large crowds, and an autistic child who is known for quietness—it can be quite elusive to distinguish one from the other.
Some common behaviors in autistic child include:
Repetitive body movements
If you observe some unusual repetitive body movements from your loved one, this could be a telltale sign of autism. The vast majority of autistic children love flapping their arms back and forth, swinging on a chair back and forth, pressing buttons repeatedly, and twirling their hair repeatedly. Meanwhile, it may not even occur to you as a parent that your child is exhibiting these behaviors. Try to let the child play alone in an open room and notice any unusual repetitive movements.
Poor eye contact or aloofness
The vast majority of autistic children may struggle with conventional social skills such as eye contact or attention. For example, the child may look away during conversation as an indication of discomfort. For an average Joe, this lack of eye contact can be misconstrued for arrogance or lack of interest in the subject matter. It's noteworthy that this withdrawal of eye contact does not imply that the child is disgusted with what you are saying, they genuinely feel discomfort or strange to express themselves to strangers or even closer people. An aloof autistic child could be an indication that they are overwhelmed with surrounding stimuli.
What do they like doing?
While neurotypical children love playing with toys, clapping hands, watching Disney, and playing hide and seek, do autistic children love the same? Autistic children are neurologically unique. And while they can have two or more hobby interests, most autistic parents would agree that their children love watching trains passing, playing with puzzles such as jigsaws, and drawing using paints and crayons. Drawing is perhaps the dearest for these loved ones. They know how to express themselves using paintings and crayons. It should be stated that art in autism can take forms other than paintings alone. For example, some autistic children can demonstrate impressive poetry skills and musical skills—some learn to play piano and violin at a very early age.
Other hobbies that excite autistic children
Yes. Autistic children love jumping on the trampoline as it helps release negative energies such as worries and anxiety. A typical specialist would recommend trampoline jumping to help an autistic child stay positive. The tool also helps the child to acquire muscle coordination and other motor skills.
Although not a thing for everyone, a typical autistic child loves the repetitive movement involved in pedaling a bicycle. On a cool Saturday evening, save some time to support an autistic loved one in pedaling a bicycle. They can be very appreciative.
We had a great time on the blog this month celebrating World Autism Month. We will continue to spread awareness and debunk the myths and we hope you do the same!
Bouncy valley. (2015). Health Benefits of Trampoline. Retrieved from; https://www.bouncevalleycottage.com/kids-with-autism-benefit-from-trampoline-exercise/