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Frequently Asked Questions about Autism

1. My child was able to say words such as “mommy”, “daddy”, “cookie” and “bye-bye” but suddenly stopped using language entirely. Should I be concerned?

Any loss of speech, babbling or gestures should be taken seriously.  Regression in language at any age is a red flag for autism.

2. My son likes spinning the wheels on his toy cars over and over again rather than playing with the toy appropriately. He also jumps and flaps his hands when he’s excited or anxious.  Should I be worried?

Autism spectrum disorders are characterised by restricted, repetitive and stereotypic patterns of behaviour and interests and are considered one of the early signs of autism. Common repetitive behaviors include hand-flapping, rocking, jumping and twirling, arranging and rearranging objects, and repeating sounds, words, or phrases.

3. I am concerned that my child does not seem to enjoy interacting with others and prefers to play alone. He rarely smiles, laughs or makes eye contact when I try to play with him. 

Many children with autism have difficulty engaging in the give-and-take of everyday human interactions. Some symptoms include failure to respond to their names and reduced interest in people. By toddlerhood, many children with autism have difficulty playing social games, do not imitate the actions of others and prefer to play alone. They may also fail to seek comfort or respond to parents' displays of affection in typical ways.

4. I have noticed that my son reacts unusually to smells, textures, and sounds. He does not like the feel of certain materials against his skin, will not eat certain foods because of their consistency and appears to be very oversensitive to loud noises and covers his ears.

Another sign of autism is hyper or hypo sensitivity to sensory stimuli (e.g. tactile/touching, oral/tasting, auditory/hearing, olfactory/smelling, vestibular and proprioceptive/sensing).  The child may have atypical reactions to one or more sensory stimuli and may lead to behavioural difficulties related to sensory integration.

5. My son has been having lots of tantrums lately especially when there is an unexpected change in his routine or schedule.  He also has a very difficult time when I ask him to put his toys away when it is time for bed.

Many children, whether or not they have autism, have difficulty transitioning between activities. Changes in routine, leaving preferred places or stopping fun activities is hard for all of us, and these transitions can be even more difficult for children with autism.

If you think your child exhibits a number of these signs, we recommend that you ask your family doctor, pediatrician or psychologist for a referral for a developmental assessment or a referral to a developmental specialist. Please also feel free to consult the following resources if you have any more questions or concerns:


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The Etobicoke Children’s Centre

65 Hartsdale Drive,
Etobicoke, ON M9R 2S8

200 Ronson Dr., (4th floor)
Etobicoke, ON M9W 5Z9

Tel: (416) 240-1111
Fax: (416) 240-7999
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