Many cases of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are not diagnosed until age three or later. Yet, signs of autism often exist much earlier. And since early intervention is imperative for treatment, it is important that parents be aware of possible red flags in their child’s development. Autism Speaks has developed a helpful list of developmental milestones by age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also explains the many signs and symptoms of autism. I’ve highlighted some of the featured warning signs below.
- No name recognition – By 7 months a child should be able to respond to his or her own name.
- Avoiding eye contact – Most children start watching faces and making eye contact as early as 2-3 months.
- Lack of facial expressions – Between 3 and 4 months, children may begin to smile and respond to others’ facial expressions.
- Lack of interest – Babies begin reacting to sounds and objects within the first few months of life, and by 7 months, reach for objects and explore surroundings.
- Delayed speech – Language development is a process, with babbling beginning around 6 months, single words appearing near the one-year mark, and phrases developing between ages 2 and 3.
- Repetition – Children with autism may repeat single words or phrases over and over again.
- No imitation – Children often begin imitating sounds and words by age 1, and around age 2, imitate the behavior of others.
- Imaginative play – Around age 2, a child typically begins simple make-believe play.
- Fixations and toy patterns – Many children with autism may become fixated on one part of an object instead of the whole. They may also spin or line up their toys repeatedly without any clear purpose.
- Restricted interests – Kids with autism typically lack interest in play activities and interactions with other children. They also tend to fixate on one particular topic of interest.
Every child differs slightly in reaching developmental milestones, but parents need to be mindful of each stage. Should a child miss several major milestones, be sure to get an assessment from a trusted pediatrician. Early diagnosis and intervention can make a radical difference in the world of autism.