While each child is different and develops at a different pace, it’s important to compare what your child is going through to what’s normal. An abnormality may indicate autism. The earlier a developmental delay is identified, the better chances, depending on the level of autism, your child has of integrating into regular school programs. There is growing evidence that shows intervention during preschool or earlier has the largest impact on autistic children. Here are some things to keep an eye out for:
Early signs in infants
Even though autism is usually diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 3, there are earlier signs to keep an eye out for, even in infants. If your baby rarely smiles when you approach or smiled at, that may be a sign of a developmental delay.
Most babies are babbling and making repetitive sounds by the time they’re 6 months old. Between 6 months and a year, they should start responding to their name. If your child does not seem to be making these noises or responding to their name, they may and early signs of developmental delays.
Lack of eye contact
One of the most common signs of autism is a lack of eye contact. This sign can sometimes show in infants, but as your child grows into a toddler, if you notice a lack or avoidance of eye contact, you should look into possible autism immediately.
Unusual physical movements
In as early as infancy, autistic children may move differently that those without autism. They may stiffen their limbs, or make repetitive motions with their hands. As they get older, these movements will often continue.
Unusual communication skills
Kids with autism often show abnormalities communicating early on. They may not respond appropriately in conversation with peers, struggle alone instead of asking for help or show a smaller variety of vocabulary words than their peers.
-Wetherby, Amy. “Infant Toddler Checklist.” Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile.
-“10 early warning signs of autism.” CBS News.
-Warner, Jennifer. “Cues May Signal Autism in Toddlers.” WebMD.
-Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net