In Middle Childhood and Adolescence
Autism is a lifetime developmental disability affecting how an individual communicates and relates to others which are also characterised by blocked out, repetitive patterns of interests, behaviour or activities. It is a “spectrum” condition which varies from” low functioning” to “high functioning” autism (previously known as Asperger’s syndrome).
Children and teenagers with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) typically show difficulties in two fundamental areas. First is with social communication, and the second is having restricted and repetitive behaviours and interests.
Signs of ASD
About 60-70% of people having autism exhibit significant degrees of learning disability and around 70% of them often have 1 or more unrecognised physical or mental health problem, such as epilepsy, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, eating problems, coordination problems sensory sensitivities and ADHD. These problems can extensively affect an individual’s quality of life and that of their families or caregivers leading to social vulnerability.
Teenagers with autism mostly experience a series of learning, medical, language, cognitive, emotional and behavioural problems. These may include a need for routine and difficulty understanding other people, including their perspectives, feelings and intentions.
You might find some of the signs showing in your child while others might not show in your child at all. If the majority of these signs are present, you may schedule an appointment for an intensive diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder symptoms. A diagnosis is generally made only when advised by certified clinicians for possible explanations for a child’s behaviour.
Some of the most common social communication and behaviour symptoms of ASD in middle childhood and adolescence are shown below.
Social communication signs of autism spectrum disorder:
- Challenged with following instructions
- Shows interest in specific topic but has difficulty in talking about a range of topics
- Often confused by language and may take things literally
- Uses an unusual tone of voice when talking
- Has difficulty in understanding non-verbal clues such as body language or tone of voice
- Uses eye contact in an unusual way
- Expresses very few facial expressions, or not be able to read other people’s facial expressions
- Use very few to no gestures at all when expressing themselves
- Prefers to spend time on their own, rather than with fellow teenagers
- Needs other children to play by their rules as they please
- Has difficulty in understanding the social rules of friendship
- Has very few or no real friends
- Finds it difficult in relating to children their own age, and tends to play with younger kids or older adults
- Challenged in adjusting behaviour in different situations
- Often invades other people’s personal space and gets too close to people
Behaviour signs of autism spectrum disorder
Repetitive behaviour and interests
- have unusual interests or obsessions
- have compulsive behaviour
- have an unusual attachment to objects
- be easily upset by change and like to follow routines
- repeat body movements or have unusual body movements, like hand-flapping or rocking
- make repetitive noises
- be unusually sensitive and get upset easily
- be sensitive to sensory experiences
- seek sensory stimulation
Other signs of autism spectrum disorder
- Difficulty sleeping
- Display aggressive behaviour
- Eating disorders
- Difficulty with organisation skills
- Refusal or not wanting to go to school
These signs often become evident when a child reaches school age and having difficulty in adjusting to new social situations in a school setting – for instance, making friends, sticking on designated tasks, understanding and following instructions, and having age-related interests.
At The ADHD Centre, we understand how challenging it can be for parents thinking there might be something peculiar with their child. Our team of expert child and adolescent psychiatrists and psychologists provides full support for parents. And we also commit ourselves to the treatment of the symptoms and developmental needs of the child and adolescent.