Top Signs of Autism

Signs of Autism for parents and nannies

The Sooner You Notice Symptoms of ASD, The Sooner Your Child Can Get Help

If you suspect your child may have an autism spectrum disorder, speak to your pediatrician as soon as possible. Though the signs of autism can vary greatly, there are some key early signs that could be a cause for concern.

What Many Parents Notice First

One of the most common red flags parents report is that they suspect their child is deaf. Because their child no longer responds to his name, and doesn’t look at them when they speak, they often think there may be a hearing issue. But in fact, the lack of response or eye contact can point to an ASD. Other early signs include: not pointing to things in the environment (most children begin to point around 10 months), not speaking (children usually have single words by 15 months), and not showing interest in other children (children usually want to play with peers even as toddlers).

Red Flags to Look For

1- by 6 months:

  • Doesn’t make eye contact
  • Doesn’t smile or make other warm, joyful expressions
  • Doesn’t babble or coo
  • Doesn’t react when you play peek-a-boo or seem to enjoy face-to-face play
  • Doesn’t repeat sounds you make
  • Doesn’t like to be hugged and cuddled

2- by 14 months:

See 6 months and…

  • Doesn’t say single words
  • No longer says words or sentences
  • Doesn’t respond to his own name
  • Doesn’t wave hello or point to things he wants
  • Seems unnaturally attached to one toy or object
  • Seems unaware of others
  • Is either overly sensitive or not at all sensitive to sound, smell, light or touch
  • Rocks, spins and/or flaps hands or twirls fingers
  • Appears to be deaf
  • Likes routines and rituals and strongly resists change

3- by 2 years:

See 6 and 14 months and…

  • Doesn’t combine two words to communicate with others
  • Doesn’t follow simple instructions
  • Doesn’t recognize names of familiar people and objects
  • Seems obsessed with a few activities or interests
  • Doesn’t speak or socialize anymore
  • Seems uncoordinated

4- by 3-5 years:

See above and…

  • Still isn’t speaking
  • Speaks in a flat, emotionless tone, or has a high-pitched or sing-song voice
  • Repeats the same word over and over, or “parrots” what he hears (echolalia)
  • Has violent or uncontrollable tantrums
  • Hurts himself (i.e., head banging, hair pulling, arm biting)
  • Seems afraid of harmless objects
  • Doesn’t fear danger or pain
  • Seems oblivious to extreme cold
  • Plays alone all the time, ignoring other children
  • Seems overly focused on one activity with little interest in anything else
  • Uses toys to line up or put in his mouth instead of for pretend play
  • Has unusual moods or emotional reactions (such as laughing or crying at unusual times or showing no emotional response when you would typically expect one)
  • Doesn’t have separation anxiety when you leave or over reacts to separation from parent
  • Has unusual eating habits (is a picky eater and rejects new foods)
  • Has unusual sleep habits or patterns (e.g., has difficulty falling asleep, doesn’t sleep through the night)
  • Has repetitive behaviors (like hand flapping, tapping fingers, obsessively lining up toys, or turning lights on and off)

The above lists shouldn’t be used to make a diagnosis, but these early warning signs can mean your child is at risk, so it’s important to know what to watch out for. If your child displays a number of these symptoms, speak to your pediatrician. While all children progress differently, if your child has autism, the sooner you find out the better, so that you can begin treatment. By paying attention to when, or if, your child hits key developmental milestones, you can spot potential problems early on.

To learn more about developmental milestones, visit the CDC website

Reference: Rethink Autism 

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