Early Signs of Autism

Red flags for autism are often present as early as 6 months of age and can frequently be detected by 18 months to 2 years of age.  All children should be screened during well baby check-ups at 18- and 24-months of age.  Early identification of children at risk for autism spectrum disorders is important as early intervention is key in children’s development. Below are possible warning signs:

  • Doesn’t smile or share joyful expressions by 6 months or later
  • Doesn’t engage in back-and-forth sounds, smiles, and other facial expressions by 9 months
  • Doesn’t gesture — such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving — by 12 months
  • Doesn’t say single words by 16 months
  • Doesn’t say meaningful two-word phrases (without imitating or repeating) by 24 months
  • Plays with toys in an unusual manner
  • Unusual body movements – stiffening arms or legs, rotating hands on wrist, or any other repetitive      behavior
  • Oversensitivity to textures, smells, or sounds
  • Overly fussy, sensitive or difficult to soothe
  • Loss of previously acquired language or social skills at any age

If you suspect that your child may have autism, discuss your concerns with your doctor. Your doctor can refer you to a child psychologist or psychiatrist, child neurologist, or developmental pediatrician for a screening.  If further evaluation is required, A comprehensive developmental assessment can be conducted by a child psychologist with specific training in this area.