Learn the Signs of Autism

 One of the most important things you can do as a parent or caregiver is to learn the early signs of autism and become familiar with the typical developmental milestones that your child should be reaching.

The timing and severity of autism’s early signs vary widely.

Some infants show hints in their first months. In others, symptoms become obvious as late as age 2 or 3.

Not all children with autism show all the signs. Many children who don’t have autism show a few. That’s why professional evaluation is crucial.

The following “red flags” may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, please don’t delay in asking your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation:

6 months

  • Few or no big smiles or other warm, joyful and engaging expressions.
  • Limited or no eye contact.

By 9 months

  • Little or no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions

By 12 months

  • Little or no babbling
  • Little or no back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving
  • Little or no response to name.

By 16 months

  • Very few or no words.

By 24 months

  • Very few or no meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating)

At any age

  • Loss of previously acquired speech, babbling or social skills
  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • Persistent preference for solitude
  • Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings
  • Delayed language development
  • Persistent repetition of words or phrases (echolalia)
  • Resistance to minor changes in routine or surroundings
  • Restricted interests
  • Repetitive behaviors (flapping, rocking, spinning, etc.)
  • Unusual and intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colors

If you have concerns, get your child screened and contact your healthcare provider.