Autism Signs

Autism Facts

Autism spectrum disorders, commonly referred to as autism, are brain based developmental disabilities categorized by language/communication problems, impaired social interaction, and repetitive, rigid behaviors and interests.

The symptoms of autism vary widely from child to child and range from mild to severe.
Once considered rare, autism is now estimated to affect 1 in every 150 children in the United States; every 20 minutes a child is diagnosed.

Autism is four times more common in boys than in girls, and occurs in children of all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Symptoms can often be detected by 18 months of age or earlier. When parents first suspect the first signs of early autism may be present they should discuss these concerns with their pediatrician and ask for an autism screening.

Research indicates that early identification and intensive early intervention can result in significant positive outcomes for many children with autism.

Early Signs Of Autism Spectrum Disorders

By four months of age:
Does not make eye contact or makes little eye contact
Does not seem interested in other people
Does not react by looking at people when they are making social "sounds", such as humming or clapping
Does not show much interest in people as objects
Does not have a social smile (smiling back to someone who smiles at them without being cooed or touched)
Does not show interest in watching other peoples' faces

By 12 months of age:
Does not combine eye contact with smiling
Does not babble (or the babble does not sound like "talking")
Does not look at objects that another person is looking at
Does not try to engage other people in what he/she is looking at or doing
Does not follow a person's eye contact when the person points out an object and says, "Look at the airplane!"
Does not engage in back-and-forth gestures, such as giving, showing or sharing toys
Does not respond when name is called
Does not point using the index finger
Does not show a caring or concerned reaction to other people crying
Does not use gestures, such as waving "hi" or "bye"

By 24 months of age:
Does not point to share interests with others, such as pointing to an airplane
Does not imitate common activities of others, such as sweeping the floor
Does not develop pretend of make-believe play
Does not use single words by 16 months, no two-word spontaneous phrases ("go car" or "look doggie") by 24 months

Other developmental signs:
May develop language and/or social skills normally and then lose some or all of these skills
Has repetitive body movements (hand flapping, spinning)
Fixates upon a single object, such as a spoon or book
Cannot tolerate change in routine or environment, such as a new toothbrush or a replacement for a lost toy
Has oversensitivity to texture, lights and/or sounds
Has delayed motor skills (late walking, riding a tricycle or learning to jump)
Prefers to play alone or does not interact with peers as expected, such as asking for friends to come over, playing together or taking turns
Lines items up or puts things in order repeatedly
Has excessive tantrums and is difficult to console
Walk on tiptoes
May not enjoy cuddling or being touched unless it is on own terms

The presence of any one or a combination of these warning signs does not necessarily mean that your child has an autism spectrum disorder. If your child demonstrates any of these signs, please discuss your concerns with your pediatrician and ask for a referral for further evaluation.