Early Symptoms of Autism



Early symptoms of autism are difficult to detect since communication and social activity is immature in all infants. Until a child is over a year old, they are not expected to obtain certain skills. There are some common indicators observed in infants under one year in age who were later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.

Absence of Cooing and Babbling

If your baby is not cooing, babbling, and is normally very quiet, this may or may not be a concern. Cooing usually begins in the first few months, which is typically in the form of vowel sounds. At six months, you should start hearing some consonants. A few months after that, they should progress to two-syllable sounds like “ba-ba” for their bottle, “da-da”, “ma-ma”, etc.

By eleven to thirteen months old, your baby should be babbling, which is stringing several sounds together. You may not have any idea what your baby is saying but they seem to know exactly what they are verbalizing. This is simply practice for putting sounds together and it’s okay they have a language of their own.

Absence of, or minimal Eye Contact

If a baby seems unable to maintain eye contact with their parents, this could be an issue of concern. By three months, a baby should be gazing back at a caregiver when they are being fed, cuddled, and during other interactions. Eye contact should increase as the baby gets older and they should appear to be interested in looking at their caregivers. Minimal or awkward eye contact is prevalent on most lists of early symptoms of autism.

Resistance to physical contact

A common characteristic infants exhibit, who are later diagnosed with autism, is arching their back away from their caregiver to avoid physical contact. They also may fail to anticipate being picked up and become limp. An occasional occurrence of this type of activity is no reason for concern as babies have opinions and moods too so this characteristic alone should not be taken as early symptoms of autism.

Failure to Respond to Their Name

By ten or twelve months of age, a baby should look in your direction when you call their name. A child with a physical hearing loss would fail to react when their name is called as well. By this age, your pediatrician can determine whether your child has a physical loss of hearing. Another explanation for lack of response to their name is “selective hearing”. By eleven or twelve months, a normal baby may choose to ignore the fact someone is trying to get their attention because they have better things to do at the moment. Beware of the many reasons a baby may not respond to their name and again, there is a big difference in whether this happens occasionally or is a consistent occurrence.

Lack of Gestures to Communicate

By twelve to fifteen months of age, a baby should be using gestures in their communications. They should be pointing to things and able to look at an object that others point out. Infants will look at the finger that is pointing as opposed to the object being point out. However, at approximately twelve months, a baby should begin to understand the finger is pointing to an object of interest. Children later diagnosed with autism often continue to look at the finger that is pointing as opposed to the object. Again, a normal child younger than 12 months will likely look at the pointing finger and it should not be construed as early symptoms of autism.

Lack of Desire to Interact

By twelve to fifteen months old, a child should be seeking you out and showing a desire to spend time with others. This is characterized by little things like them bringing their toys to show you, or just simply finding you to say "hello". They should acknowledge it when you enter their approximate physical area. A child with autism often appears independent and likes playing alone. They may not notice when someone enters a room and will continue with whatever they are doing at the time.

Ritualistic or Compulsive Play Patterns

Early symptoms of autism can become evident in a child's play patterns. An observation of parents who have a child diagnosed with autism, recall odd play patterns from an early age. The child may have been overly preoccupied with certain objects and could spend unusually long hours playing with their objects of interest or just handling them. Many autistic children like to organize or line up their toys in a specific manner and become upset if anyone tries to interfere with their methods. At around fourteen to eighteen months, a child should be comfortable playing with a variety of toys and be receptive to playing with certain toys in a variety of different ways.

If your baby is showing any of these signs, don’t get overly concerned. It does not necessarily mean they have one of the autism spectrum disorders. They could still be developing normally as all babies will probably display some or all of these characteristics at some time during their development. At any rate, if they do have a developmental delay, there is nothing you can do to treat your baby until they get older anyway. Just love them, attend to their needs attentively, and remain vigilant for early symptoms of autism or other developmental or physical problems.

Read more information on identifying early symptoms of autism to learn about early intervention.

Early intervention is highly beneficial in training your child to survive in this world that will seem very odd to them. As a parent or teacher of an autistic child, it will be important to learn teaching skills for autistic children. When the caregivers learn new skills and techniques to improve their ability to communicate with an autistic child, this in turn improves the opportunities for the autistic to learn the necessary life skills.

Go on to find more autism symptoms checklists for other ages.

Autism Asperger Publishing Co.


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