Early Signs of Autism

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Early signs of Autism can be difficult to spot.  Every child is different, and every child develops at his or her own pace.  There are specific developmental milestones that all children should be reaching by specific ages. If your child is not meeting milestones or you are concerned about your child’s development, don’t wait! Talk to your doctor.

If your child is two months old, you should consider talking to your doctor if your child exhibits the following behavior: early signs autism
Doesn’t respond to loud sounds
Doesn’t watch things as they move
Doesn’t smile at people
Doesn’t bring his/her hands to mouth
Can’t hold his/her head up when pushing up on tummy

If your child is four months old, you should consider talking to your doctor if your child exhibits the following behavior:
Doesn’t watch things as they move
Doesn’t smile at people
Can’t hold his/her head steady
Doesn’t make sounds or coo
Doesn’t bring things to his/her mouth

If your child is six months old, you should consider talking to your doctor if your child exhibits the following behavior:
Doesn’t reach for things
Show no affection for caregivers
Doesn’t respond to sounds around her/him
Doesn’t make vowel sounds (eh, ah, oh)
Doesn’t laugh or squeal
Seems unusually stiff or unusually floppy

If your child is nine months old, you should consider talking to your doctor if your child exhibits the following behavior:
Doesn’t look where you point
Doesn’t respond to his/her own name
Doesn’t babble (mama, dada)
Doesn’t play back and forth type games
Doesn’t seem to recognize familiar people

If your child is one year old, you should consider talking to your doctor if your child exhibits the following behavior:
Doesn’t point to things
Doesn’t learn gestures like waving bye bye, or shaking head yes or no
Doesn’t search for things that she sees you hide
Doesn’t say single words like mama, dada, up, bye, this, that, juice
Doesn’t crawl
Loses skills he/she once had

If your child is 18 months old, you should consider talking to your doctor if your child exhibits the following behavior:
Doesn’t point to show things to others
Doesn’t know what familiar things (cup, spoon, phone) are used for
Doesn’t imitate or copy others
Doesn’t have at least six words
Doesn’t gain new words
Doesn’t notice or react when a caregiver leaves or returns
Doesn’t walk
Loses skills he/she once had

If your child is 2 years, you should consider talking to your doctor if your child exhibits the following behavior:
Doesn’t use 2-word phrases (mama up, want milk)
Doesn’t know what familiar things (cup, spoon, phone) are used for
Doesn’t imitate actions and words
Doesn’t follow simple instructions
Doesn’t walk steadily
Loses skills he/she once had

If your child is 3 years old, you should consider talking to your doctor if your child exhibits the following behavior:
Has unclear speech or drools a lot
Doesn’t speak in sentences
Doesn’t follow simple instructions
Can’t work simple toys (simple puzzles, turning knobs/handles, peg board)
Shows little interest in toys
Doesn’t want to play with other children
Doesn’t play make believe or pretend
Doesn’t make eye contact
Falls down often or has trouble on stairs
Loses skills he/she once had

If your child is 4 years old, you should consider talking to your doctor if your child exhibits the following behavior:
Ignores other children
Doesn’t respond to people outside the family
Shows no interest in make believe or pretending games
Can’t retell a favorite story
Doesn’t follow 3-step directions
Doesn’t use “you” and “me” correctly
Doesn’t understand “same” and “different”
Speaks unclearly
Doesn’t scribble or has trouble scribbling with a crayon
Loses skills he/she once had

If your child is 5 years old, you should consider talking to your doctor if your child exhibits the following behavior:
Doesn’t show a wide range of emotions
Shows behavioral extremes (unusually aggressive, fearful, sad, shy)
Is unusually withdrawn and not active in social situations
Is easily distracted and has trouble focusing on an activity for more than five minutes
Doesn’t respond to people or responds only superficially
Can’t tell the difference between real and make believe
Doesn’t participate in a wide variety of games and activities
Can’t give his/her first and last name
Doesn’t use plurals, pronouns or past tense properly
Doesn’t talk about daily activities
Doesn’t draw pictures
Loses skills he/she once had
Signs of autism in older children, teens and adults:
Impared social skills
Avoiding eye contact
Rigid adherence to daily activities
Unusual interests or obsessive/repetitive behaviors
Being highly sensitive or under responsive to sound, light or touch

© 2012 Autism Science Foundation