Autism is essentially a developmental disability caused by a neurological disorder in the brain. It can range in severity from mild to fairly pervasive impairment that affects both a person's communication skills and his social interactions. In the case of "light" autism, which is more commonly referred to as mild autism, the individual will demonstrate some of the same symptoms as "classical" autism, yet these behavioural signals will be far more subtle or not as easily seen. More often than not, a person with mild autism will have average to above-average intellect, according to the Pediatric Neurology Associates of New York, which can make this developmental disorder difficult to discern. However, there are a number of symptoms that you can look for if you have questions.
When someone is affected by mild autism, he may display a behavioural symptom that concerns his social interactions. While he may interact with his parents or other family members as one would expect from any typical child, there is usually an almost hindered ability to establish friendships with other kids his age. This can be seen in the way a child or teen initiates a conversation or maintains a conversation with someone. There can be a rather limited capacity or even failure to do so.
The symptom of verbal communication pretty much goes hand-in-hand with a person's capacity for social interactions. This symptom will usually manifest itself in a number of different ways. There may be difficulty interacting with peers, as in speaking or responding to others. But, it can also reveal itself as a recitation of somewhat irrelevant facts to the conversation he is currently a part of. He may also not necessarily understand a joke or sarcasm, rather, seeing it as serious; he's not able to read the inflection or tone in a person's voice. He might even go on and on about one subject without any real awareness of the other person he is speaking to.
This symptom of mild autism is probably one of the hardest to pick up on, since it really deals with someone's reaction to another person. Where most people are able to read someone's body language, a person with autism will not. They may fail to grasp a motion of affection or misinterpret a signal of disinterest or other gestures along this same line.
Many people with mild autism will have a tendency to have certain preoccupations. These harmless fixations will generally manifest in an object or topic, so this symptom can either be seen or heard. She may fixate so much on a toy that she will basically pay no attention to others, even when they are speaking directly to her. This preoccupation may also exhibit itself in bouts of staring at an object for extended periods of time. When the fixation takes the form of verbal transmission, you'll hear a lengthy narration on a single topic.
A fairly obvious symptom of mild autism can be seen in a repetition of one thing over and over again, like a phrase he has heard in a movie or a conversation he's had at an earlier time. While it may seem annoying to a parent that may not understand that their child has this pervasive developmental disorder, the particular hallmark is really something that the child cannot necessarily help.
Some children with autism may also have trouble making and keeping eye contact. They may experience fairly extreme mood swings or even not be considerate of other people and their feelings.
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