It can be scary, as a parent, to think that your child has autism. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s a topic that can be avoided. As a parent, you need to know what to watch out for if you think there is a possibility that your child places on the autism spectrum.
Even if your child does not have autism, it’s important to be aware and acknowledge the same through compassionate actions and understanding.
There are a couple of things to note when considering the following early signs of autism. First, if you see these signs, you should consult your child’s pediatrician for a professional opinion. Additionally, if your child does place on the autism spectrum, you should make sure to learn everything you can to help them and know that your family isn’t alone.
When Would I Notice These Signs in My Child?
For this question, there is no single answer. Every child is different. While some children might show signs as early as six months, other children might not show any signs of autism until they are 3 years old.
The absolute earliest you might notice your child showing signs of autism is at 6 months. Here, you will want to keep an eye out for a lack of engagement. Specifically, you might notice that your child doesn’t give you big grins like other or babies or don’t keep or only keep limited eye contact.
Between 6 and 18 months, you might also notice that your baby fixates on certain objects as well. It is important to note that babies having a “favorite toy” is different and to a lesser degree than a fixation.
For most babies, around 9 months they aren’t talking yet but they probably are babbling. You might even make sounds back and forth with them or you might notice them babble back at you when you talk. For a child showing signs of autism around this time, though, you won’t see a back and forth with this exchange of babbling or responsive facial expressions.
16 to 24 Months
Between 16 and 24 months, most children are learning to talk. Closer to 16 months, you might notice single word phrases such as “mama” or “dada.” This is where babbling turns into words that your child relates to something. Closer to 24 months, most babies are using two-word phrases. A sign of autism is that your child is missing these milestones.
You will also notice as a sign of autism if your child’s physical gestures aren’t meaningful. For example, most children might point to their mother and say “mommy” or say the name of a toy and point to it as a sign that they are associating words and items. However, if a child shows signs of placing on the autism spectrum, they might not make meaningful gestures like this.
Further Signs of Autism
Past this point, there are some signs of autism that you should look for at any age.
As your child starts to interact with other children, you might notice a couple things as signs of autism. For instance, your child might draw away from other children and prefer to play by themselves. You might also notice that your child is confused when they are presented with other’s emotions.
Another similar sign you might notice is that your child isn’t responsive to stimuli. For example, if someone calls their name, they might not take notice. When they are talking or interacting with you or others, you also might notice limited or total lack of eye contact – just like we mentioned you might see at earlier stages.
Other signs might be more situational. If a child’s routine is disrupted or their normal environment is changed, they might show resistance. You might see this discomfort when your child starts school.
Signs such as repetitive motions and restricted interests are also things to watch out for. You should also take note if your child lags behind on developmental milestones similar to the delay of speech we mentioned for babies and toddlers.
Finally, you should make sure that you keep an eye out for any regression in your child. If you see any of their social, verbal, or physical skills undoing themselves, this is an important sign.
What Should I Do If I Notice These Signs?
As mentioned earlier, you should bring these signs up with your child’s doctor if you start to notice multiple instances of them. Remember, you should watch for the signs but a trained medical professional should make the final diagnosis.