Friends 18 month old signs of autism (HELP!)

Rachel - posted on 07/29/2013 ( no moms have responded yet )

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My friends daughter is showing signs of autism but her parents just don't see it. They are from South Africa so they knew that her speech would be slower than usual but there are so many other signs. She can only say 'ta' and sometimes 'daa' (dad) she holds her hands to her head and shakes is back and forth for no reason making odd sounds and faces. Her pitch is really uneven. She screams and makes random noises all the time while flapping her hands. She avoids eye contact most of the time though she can look at things. She doesn't really understand anything you say to her about objects though she does respond with her hands in the air like she doesn't know. She prefers to play alone rather than play with other children, though when we plays its more like she's just feeling the textures of the objects or listening to the sounds they make. She has only just started eating solid food because she wouldn't chew, even now its like she uses her saliva to break it down. She throws huge tantrums, where you can't calm her down, she bites and hits her head or anything around her during that. She does look at you when you call her name but it's just like she has no idea what you're saying. Her parents just think that it her sense of humor when she makes the weird sounds or does weird actions. I know her dad is big on punishment, he thinks that fear means respect so she is also quite with drawn for fear of being smacked (which i think it horrid, but you can't tell a parent how to raise their child) so it sort of mixes with her behavior problems which makes it even harder to notices if there is anything wrong. So I'm worried but as i also have an 18 month old daughter i know it would be hard to have to take them to a doctor to get tested because they are perfect to you and you don't want to see that they may be different. I've worked in childcare and am now a teacher so i do understand children develop at their own stages and that having a family that speak a different language at home can slow down a child's speech development but to me her behavior just isn't normal. i guess i need to see if others think the same, or am i just looking in to her behavior too much? because i know trying to talk to her mum and dad is going to be pretty much impossible.

Thanks

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