Spotting the Early Signs of Autism

September 6, 2016

As a parent, you don’t want to think about struggles your child may have. You really want to protect them from the harsh world around them and make everything better, easier. But, like many things in life, catching autism early (ideally by the age of eighteen months) makes a huge difference. Treatments and therapies can reduce the disorder’s effects and help your child learn, grow, and thrive. Given that 1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys show signs of autism or autism-like disorders here are some of the signs to keep on your radar.

Signs and symptoms of autism vary greatly from child to child but most signs of  Autism Spectrum Disorders appear in infancy and early childhood, causing delays in many basic areas of development, such as learning to talk, play, and interact with others. As with other disorders the spectrum of symptoms can vary from mild to severe.

According to Autism Speaks, the following “red flags” may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, please don’t delay in asking your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation:

  • No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
  • No words by 16 months
  • No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
  • Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age

The M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers) can help you determine if a professional should evaluate your child. Here is a link to the online screening. If you have any questions, seek the advice of your pediatrician for formal testing. Do not lose hope. There are some incredible treatments for autism that can help your child live a full and happy life.