The Early Signs of Autism
Autism usually manifests in the first year of life. Its onset is usually no later than 3 years. Listed below are some of the things to watch out for as a child grows. These developmental landmarks may be used as a guide to gauge a child's development. When there are any concerns about a child's development, or if there is a loss of any skills at any age, talk to a doctor as soon as possible.
Early Red Flags for Autism?
The following are some of the early signs of autism that appear by 12 months of age:
- Not Babbling: “babbling” refers to the sounds that babies make before they begin to talk, such as vowel and consonant combinations like “ba”, “da,” and “gee”. 12-month-olds should look at someone while they babble, and take turns babbling with caregivers (like a back-and-forth “conversation”)
- Not Pointing: This includes pointing to ask for things, or pointing to get someone’s attention.- Not Showing Objects to Caregivers: 12-month-olds should hold up interesting objects and show them to their caregivers. It may be an early sign of autism when a child does not show things to people.
- Lack of Gestures: 12-month-old children should be reaching to be picked up, waving, and shaking their head.
- Lack of Shared Enjoyment: “Shared enjoyment” refers to a child’s desire to interact with others for the simple sake of connecting. When a child does not seek out this type of interaction, or rarely smiles or laughs when playing with a caregiver, this is a red flag for autism.
- Repetitive Actions or Movements: For example, spinning a car wheel over and over instead of playing with the toy appropriate. Another example could be repetitive hand-flapping. Some typically-developing babies do these actions occasionally, but babies with autism demonstrate these actions frequently.
- Poor Eye Contact: Not looking at caregivers when communicating or playing with them.- Not Following an Adult’s Pointed Finger: Not looking in the direction of a caregiver’s finger when he or she points to something.
- Paying More Attention to Objects than People: All children are fascinated with toys and interesting objects, but young children with autism will spend much more of their time with objects than people.
- Limited Play with Toys: A young child with autism may only engage with a small number of toys, or play with just a part of the toy rather than the whole object.
- Not Copying Actions or Sounds: Not imitating actions like clapping hands, banging on a drum, or people’s speech sounds.
- Not Responding to Their Name When Called: Some parents of young children with autism initially wonder if their child is hearing properly, or think that their child is just ignoring them when they call his or her name. Children with delayed language should have a hearing test to rule out a hearing problem. But young children with autism don’t respond when their name is called even though their hearing is fine. This is due to difficulties with paying attention and understanding language.
For toddlers between18-24 months, the following is also a red flag for autism:
Loss of Words, Skills, or Social Connection.
This type of regression doesn’t happen with all children with autism. However, approximately 20% to 50% of parents of children with autism report that their child lost some of his or her skills during the second year, usually around 18 months of age.