Uneven neurological development is the hallmark of autism.
Autism is developmental, present when a person is born and it is present until that person dies. There is no cure, there are only ways to help adapt to living which can make things easier and less burdensome.
Autism is decidedly genetic in nature, and its presence is discovered mostly through behavioral clues.
When an individual is being examined with autism diagnosis as a possibility, it is urgently desired that one’s developmental history be examined.
When measured against neurotypical peers, something interesting is going on in autistic children.
Science long ago set guidelines about what is normal development in a child and what is abnormal.
Most children grow and develop along the same pattern, some being slightly slower or slightly quicker to show standard signs of growth and development.
Babies follow motion with their eyes at a certain age, respond to sudden noises, make sounds, reach for their feet and toes, roll over, sit up, crawl, take their first steps, speak, and respond in certain ways at certain expected times.
Youngsters generally sleep through the night at a certain age, speak in sentences, are able to tie their shoes, are toilet trained, can ride a bike, can read and write at specific well defined ages.
Autistic children are seemingly on their own schedules.
There are early and late developers, some skip stages completely.
Some are reading before they can speak, some never sleep through the night, some never toilet train, ride a bike, read or write. The development they experience is uneven and erratic, unusual…. not “normal” or average compared to the majority of developing children. ( neurotypical)
Some are very early, or mix stages, being extremely early in performing some tasks and late in others.
Since autism is developmental, and most signposts of development are well documented , Doctors know what to expect at certain ages in a child’s development.
This is why a diagnosing doctor may ask about your childhood.
Did you speak early or late? Did you read early? Did you start school early or late?
They will ask about early childhood behavior.
Were you fussy, placid, hyperactive, or chatty?
Did you over react to loud noises, flashing lights, fear the dark?
Did you spend a lot of time lining things up, playing alone, making up songs or rhymes?
All childhood behavior can be examined looking for clues to autism.
In following blogs and participating in online forums, some people relate incidents where a diagnosing professional says they can not be sure of autism because the person is so old they could not produce a childhood history. They are sometimes denied an examination at all if they can not produce a witness to their early childhood!
Their parents may be dead or estranged, or otherwise not available and no long term old friends are present to tell of the individual’s early history.
This is wrong!!! DSM clearly says that lacking early history, a diagnosis can still be made.
I have wondered why the testimony of the individual being tested (their memories) is not acceptable?
If you can remember struggling to do things a younger sibling did with ease, if you know you were an early reader or a very late speaker, these and many other things are great clues that you had signs of uneven neurological development and that autism is possible, even likely if unexplainable by other diagnoses.
Every day science is learning more about autism. Older people who missed diagnosis simply because it was not known in their childhoods have many clues they can use for finding hidden autism. Remembered details from childhood must not be discounted in cases where there is a lack of other witness.