Just Like You

April is Autism Awareness month and this campaign is very close to my heart because I can relate and understand the difficulties these children go through because of my son, Juhd. Although Juhd has not been diagnosed yet(specialist told us to wait until he turns 3 years old to get a precise diagnosis) he has sensory issues, repetitive behavior, communication problems, social interaction difficulties and is currently going through occupational therapy.

Autism is a spectrum of closely related disorders with a shared core of symptoms. ASD can appear in infancy and early childhood, causing delays in many basic areas of development, such as learning to talk, play, and interact with others
About 1 in 68 children are identified to have ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). The earlier parents can recognize the symptoms of ASD, the better. This is because earlier intervention(such as occupational therapy/speech therapy) can help children with autism cope better with this disorder and able to lessen the severity of symptoms.

Like me, after having my first child, I was pretty much clueless of the symptoms which were red flags for autism. It can be hard to differentiate between autism and speech delay. Juhd is now 2 years and 8 months and he still can't say any meaningful words. People tell me not to worry because more often than not, speech delay happens to a lot of children, especially boys. However, children with speech delay will usually only have problems in language. If you're worried that your child is not reaching his/her milestones on time, this might help.

Here are some important points to look out for in your child(in the case of autism):

Verbal Communication Skills

-Your child may have no true words and only babble or make noises or odd sounds
-Your child may have some words, but repeat the same words or phrases over and over (echolalia) and not imitate new words or not use the words he has spontaneously in order to request or get wants/needs met
-Your child may say a word once and you never hear it again, or your child may have used a few words for a bit and then lost the words and does not use them anymore
-Your child may use unusual voice tones, such as a sing-song voice, robot-like voice or growling voice

Receptive Language Skills

–Your child may not follow simple commands or directions such as “give me the ball” or “go get your shoes”
-Your child may not respond to his name or seem like he can’t hear you or is ignoring you

Nonverbal Communication Skills

-Your child does not point to objects, pictures or people
-Your child does not use gestures or eye gaze to get wants/needs met
-Your child may use you as a “Means to and End,” such as pulling you towards an object he/she wants in order to get the object
-Your child may not be able to recognize facial expressions or imitate gestures or facial expressions
-Your child may not have shared joint attention. For example, he sees an airplane and without saying a word, he looks to the sky and then looks to you and then back at the airplane as if to say “hey, did you see that?”
-Your child may not understand body language, gestures or facial expressions

Eye Contact

-Your child may not make eye contact or have very limited eye contact
-Your child may always be looking at what he is doing instead of you when you speak to him

Play Skills

-Your child may have narrowly focused interests or obsessive interests
-Your child may play with toys in odd ways (lining up cars or blocks instead of driving or stacking, spinning toys or repeatedly dropping/throwing toys)
-Your child may engage in repetitive movements, such as tip toe walking, hand flapping/waving, rocking, spinning in circles
-Your child does not engage in turn taking or play in a back and forth manner with you
-Your child may have an unusual attachment to certain objects (needing to carry a toy in each hand at all times, preoccupation with one certain item such as a hair clip or rubber band)
-Your child may be very rigid in play and routines (a need for “sameness,” getting upset if a toy is moved out of line or if the daily schedule or routine changes)
-Your child may prefer to play alone or play alone for long time periods for his age (for example an 18 month old who plays alone for an hour without engaging an adult in his play)
-Your child may not engage in pretend play with toys (pretending to feed a baby doll or fighting with action figures)
-Your child may be interested in only the parts of a toy instead of the whole toy as it was meant to be played with (such as the wheels on the car, or the underside of the pop-up-box, or the valve where the air goes into the ball)
-Your child may line toys up instead of playing with them

Sensory Skills

–Your child may be undersensitive or oversensitive to touch, sight, sound, movement, smell, etc.
–Your child may become overwhelmed or have a melt-down in noisy and/or crowded environments
–Your child may cover his ears in response to some sounds

Feeding Skills

–Your child may be described as a “picky” eater
–Your child has a very limited diet or a few select foods
–Your child is unwilling to try new foods
–Your child has difficulty with textures of foods
–Your child needs foods presented the same way (on the same color plate or in the same box the cookies were in the first time he had them)

Social Skills

–Your child may be oblivious when new people visit the house
–Your child may have difficulty regulating his emotions and laugh, cry or yell at inappropriate times
–Your child may be unaware of common dangers inside and outside the home
–Your child does not participate in or seem to show understanding of social games such as Peek-a-boo, So-Big or Pat-a-cake.
–Your child may not know how to engage you or another child in his play and prefer to play alone
–Your child may seem to shun social interaction and not call attention to himself or anything he is doing (such as showing you a tower of blocks he built or a picture he colored)
–Your child may be difficult to comfort when he gets upset or seem to get upset for “no reason
–Your child may have difficulty interpreting your facial expressions, feelings and body language

Motor Skills

–Your child may be clumsy or appear uncoordinated
–Your child may toe walk
–Your child may have an atypical gait pattern

The signs and symptoms of autism vary widely, as do its effects. That's why some people might look at an autistic child and think that he looks totally normal, or worse, think that the child is misbehaving(due to sensory overload for instance) Some autistic children have only mild impairments, while others have more obstacles to overcome. 

So how can we help autistic children and make the world a better place for them? Learn and spread awareness. When we have the knowledge, we can understand them better, and when we understand, we will accept them in spite of their differences.

This video I found via @y.n.a.osman on instagram(she's a mother of an autistic child) perfectly explains what autism is and how the symptoms vary from one autistic child to the other. I cry every time I watch this because I think of Juhd and how he struggles with everyday life routines that we sometimes take for granted. Also I think of the times when I lost my patience handling his meltdowns when I didn't even understand what he was going through. 

If this video has affected you in anyway, please do share and help raise awareness to the public. In support of Autism Awareness Month, you can also wear blue! Let's educate the public and embrace autistic children like every other child deserves to be embraced.


  1. I'm a mum of a 8 year old autistic boy. I can't empahsise enough how important early intervention is. It really has great impact on my son's development. Family and friends support are important cos it's gonna be a long tiring journey. Wishing you all the best and may Allah bless the little boy.


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