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Autism in children


17th October 2022 | 3 mins read

If you suspect that your child is autistic, it can be a confusing time and it’s not always clear where to turn for answers. Below, we’ll cover some of the more frequently asked questions around autism in children.


Can you detect autism in the womb?

Autism cannot be detected in the womb as we still don’t know exactly what causes autism. There may be one or more genes associated with autism, but this is not clear.


Can autism be detected before age 2?

Before the age of 2 autism can be difficult to diagnose. In some instances, it can be detected at around 18 months. At this age it can be the absence of behaviours that may be more telling, such as missing certain developmental milestones.


What are signs of autism in a 2-year-old?

Typical signs of autism amongst children are:

  • avoiding eye contact
  • not answering to their name
  • not talking like other children
  • getting very upset around certain tastes, smells or sounds

If you are concerned about the development of your child, you should contact your GP or paediatrician in the first instance.


Is it normal for my child to not be talking at 2?

Speech delays can be common in children, so there may be no need to be concerned. In isolation if your child isn’t talking at 2, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are autistic. For example, your child may be meeting other milestones such as responding to their name or using vocalisations. When coupled with some of the other signs listed above, it may be a sign of autism. If in any doubt, it’s best to raise this with your GP.


How do I find out if my child is autistic?

If you have noticed signs of delay, changes in communication, behaviour or social skills, the first thing to do is speak to your GP. They will be able to support you through the process of diagnosis. Teachers or Health Visitors may also notice changes and suggest you seek another opinion. If appropriate, your GP will give you a referral. A team of professionals will then observe your child and ask you questions as a family. Observations will take place across a range of settings such as the home, nursery or school. Find out more about diagnosis here.


Is autism more common in boys?

More boys are diagnosed with autism than girls. Autism is 3 times more prevalent in boys than girls. For girls, signs often manifest differently or get misdiagnosed meaning that more boys tend to have a diagnosis. Girls often mask their difficulties more successfully to hide the challenges they face.


Is there a cure for autism?

There is no cure for autism and a cure should not be sought. Many choose to celebrate their autism and see it as an integral part of who they are.

Autism is a difference that some people have. Although they may face different challenges, with the right support autistic people can live independent, happy lives. Given that autism impacts people in a variety of ways, that support will look different from person to person. What suits one person may not work well with another.


What support can I get if my child has autism?

A diagnosis can help your child access help that is suited to their needs. You will get information on local services in your area that can support the family. A diagnosis can also help your child get additional assistance at school. For example, requesting an assessment for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).


Can autistic children go to mainstream school?

There are many children with autism who attend mainstream school. If your child needs additional support then a mainstream school might be able to provide this with some adjustments. The best person to speak to about this is the school’s SENCO. The important thing is that your child is in the right setting for them and their needs regardless of what type of school it is.


Why does my child hurt himself when angry?

Seeing your child hurt themselves can be extremely upsetting for the family. It is important to try and understand the cause of these behaviours and establish strategies that will help keep them safe.

All behaviour serves a purpose to the individual. For example, self-injurious behaviour can often be a result of the individual finding it difficult to communicate their feelings. By getting to the root cause of the behaviour it becomes easier to get the right help and support for the child. Read more about behaviour here.


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