As a parent of three, I’ve had my fair share of late-night worries and discussions with other parents and teachers about the development of our little ones.
One topic that often comes up is understanding the signs of autism in children, especially around the age of three.
Our son did peer modeling for an autistic class when he was in pre-school. So this is something we are familiar with.
It’s a complex subject and one that can cause a lot of concern for parents. Early detection and intervention can significantly impact a child’s development and quality of life.
In this post, we’ll delve into the key signs of autism in 3-year-olds, offering insights that come not only from professional research but also from personal experiences and conversations within our parent and teacher community.
So sit back, read on, and let’s navigate this journey together.
If you notice certain unique issues with your 3-year old, they might be signs of Autism.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects about one in forty-four children.
As it usually develops in early childhood, research suggests that caregivers and parents often observe some of these behaviors before a child’s first birthday.
Moreover, the CDC states that approximately one in six (17%) youngsters aged 3–17 (year-olds) were diagnosed with a developmental condition.
Worse, many show signs of regressive Autism that mostly go unnoticed by parents.
In this post, we talk about the potential signs of Autism in 3-year old kids. Take a look.
Table of Contents
Autism is among the most prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders. It’s characterized by difficulties in communication, social interaction as well as lack of flexibility in thinking.
Autistic individuals may have trouble comprehending other’s feelings and communicating with their peers and therefore, struggle with developing friendships. They might also experience repetitive and obsessive thoughts.
People with Autism typically have higher comorbidities than the general population. Some of them include:
- Digestive disorders
- Depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric issues
As per research, 70% of children with Autism have a co-occurring disorder. In comparison, 41% of children have two or more conditions, such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), oppositional defiant disorder, or social anxiety.
There isn’t a “cure” for Autism. However, therapists and doctors can help individuals deal with their issues and live healthy and happy life.
Signs and Symptoms Of Autism In A 3-Year-Old
Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a complex neurological and developmental disorder that affects an individual’s social interaction, communication skills, behaviors, and interests.
The symptoms of autism can be observed as early as 12 to 18 months, but they become more apparent by the age of 3.
Here are some signs of autism in 3-year-olds:
Children with autism often have difficulty engaging in social interactions. They may show less interest in other people and may not respond to their name being called.
They might also avoid eye contact and prefer to play alone rather than with others.
Autistic kids may not interact or play with their friends and family. They may:
- Avoid sharing toys.
- Play alone.
- Not respond to their name.
- Show no interest in socializing.
- Not understanding turn-taking play.
Delayed language development is a common sign. A 3-year-old with autism may speak fewer words than their peers or not speak at all.
They may repeat certain phrases over and over or use language in unusual ways.
Autism is described as the inability to communicate ineffectively. For a growing child, proper communication is key. Watch out for the below-mentioned communication red flags that may indicate Autism:
- Withdrawing eye contact
- Expressing regression or delays in speech and language abilities
- Not reacting to pointing
- Not speaking at all
- Appearing blank
- Talking in a flat or sing-song way
- Not getting age-appropriate jesting
- Using words, phrases, or repeatedly sounds, which doctors term as echolalia
- Not answering questions properly
- Not using gestures, such as pointing or waving
- Repeating others words
- Using the incorrect pronouns. For example, “you” rather than “I.”
Children with autism often engage in repetitive behaviors such as lining up toys, flipping objects, or hand-flapping.
They may also insist on following specific routines and get upset with minor changes.
Unusual Interests or Behaviors
An autistic child may show intense interest in specific topics or activities and may focus on them for long periods.
They might also have unusual reactions to sensory experiences, such as being overly sensitive to touch or indifferent to pain.
Parents might notice that their child is not reaching developmental milestones at the expected times. This could include delays in motor skills such as walking, or cognitive skills like problem-solving.
Other Signs Of Austims In A Toddler
Other possible signs of Autism in kids include:
- Unusual eating habits
- Severe reactions to sounds, smells, textures, colors, or tastes
- Temper tantrums
Changes in Emotional Expression
Autistic kids feel various emotions, but they usually read and express them differently.
- Struggle to be consoled or reassured.
- Experience problem discussing or showing their feelings
- Become stiff when hugged
- Give expressions that might not match internal feelings
- Avoid physical contact with others
- Exhibit no emotion when a parent leaves the room
- Have difficulty understanding the feelings of others
Behaviors Of Autistic Children
Autistic children often exhibit apparently repetitive or unusual symptoms. They may:
- Possess obsessive behaviors
- Spin around
- Flap their hands frequently
- Exhibit anxiety, agitation, or frustration when someone interrupts their routine.
- Possess a short attention span
- Rock back and forth
- Line up toys in an organized fashion
- Be hyperactive in particular situations
- Seem interested in a particular toy or activity
- Insist on special routines or rituals
Autism vs. Introversion in 3-Year-Olds: These Are Not The Same
It’s essential for parents to understand the difference between autism and introversion, particularly when observing their child’s behavior.
While both may involve solitary behaviors or a preference for alone time, the reasons behind these preferences are fundamentally different.
Autism in 3-Year-Olds
Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a developmental disorder that can become noticeable in children as young as three.
Children with autism often struggle with social communication and may find sensory experiences overwhelming.
These behaviors are often driven by the child’s difficulties in processing social and sensory information.
If you notice these signs in your child, consider seeking advice from a healthcare professional for a comprehensive evaluation.
Introversion in 3-Year-Olds
Introversion, on the other hand, is a personality trait that can also be observed at a young age. Introverted children may prefer playing alone or engaging in quiet, introspective activities.
They might be content spending time in their own company and may seem drained after social activities.
However, introverted children usually do not have difficulties understanding social cues or norms.
They simply prefer less stimulating environments, and their preference for solitude is driven by their personality, not by any difficulties in social or sensory processing.
Understanding the Difference Between Autistic and Introverted Children
While both autistic and introverted 3-year-olds may prefer to play alone, the reasons behind this preference differ significantly.
Autistic children often struggle with social interactions and sensory processing, leading to a need for predictability and control over their environment.
Introverted children, meanwhile, simply find solitude energizing and restorative.
It’s also important to note that while autism is a developmental disorder that may require specific interventions and support, introversion is a natural personality trait.
There is no need to ‘treat’ or ‘cure’ introversion; it’s simply a part of an individual’s personality that should be understood and respected.
Understanding the differences between autism and introversion can help parents better understand their child’s behaviors and needs.
If you suspect your 3-year-old may be showing signs of autism, seek advice from a healthcare professional who can guide you towards appropriate resources and support.
Not all autistic kids show the signs mentioned above. In fact, several neurotypical kids occasionally exhibit some such behaviors. And that’s why it’s imperative to seek an expert diagnosis.
Also, you need to stay strong as a parent. With determination and tips mentioned above, we’re sure you’ll be able to help your Autistic child.
Remembering these signs can vary greatly from child to child is important.
If you notice any of these signs in your child, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional who can conduct a comprehensive evaluation and guide you towards appropriate support and resources.
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Erin is the mother of identical twin girls and their slightly older brother. She is a domestic engineer, and previously had a career leading customer service teams for a major HVAC company. Cleaning without harsh chemicals, and cooking easy and usually healthy meals are part of Erin's daily life. She volunteers with youth leaders, and genuinely wants to help others win. Erin has a degree in Communications, with a focus on Broadcast Journalism.