Signs of Autism
Individuals on the autism spectrum generally experience challenges in three crucial areas of development; social interaction, communication, and behavior. Each individual will develop at their own rate. One individual on the spectrum may have a delays where others do not. It can be difficult to tell when a child will learn new skills, as everyone does so on their own time. Many of the signs below are not necessarily worrisome on their own, but when they present themselves in conjunction to one another and across the areas of social interaction, communication, and behavior, this may indicate an autism spectrum disorder.
All children should receive special screening during their regular well-check visits with their doctor. Additional screenings for developmental delays and autism should be done as needed if a child is at high risk.
Developmental delay and disability screenings should occur at:
Children should be screened specifically for autism spectrum disorder at:
Some symptoms that can show up in
A helpful tool may be the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT). This is a 2-stage parent-report screening tool to assess risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The M-CHAT-R/F is an autism screening tool designed to identify children 16 to 30 months of age who should receive a more thorough assessment for possible early signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or developmental delay. Visit this website for the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT).
Some of the most common symptoms of autism spectrum disorders revolve around social skills. An individual may display the following symptoms:
Every individual on the spectrum has their own communication skills and style. Some individuals show no perceptible symptoms while others may not verbalize at all. An individual may display the following symptoms related to language:
An individual’s behavior relays a wealth of information about an individual’s development. Autism is a diagnosis of behaviors. Some individuals will experience all of these symptoms and some only a few, but behavior is key to autism diagnosis and intervention. An individual may display the following symptoms related to behavior:
The Kennedy Kreiger Institute has produced a video showing some of the early signs of autism. The video shows both neuro-typical and neuro-diverse children to explain the developmental milestones.
This Webinar, I’m Worried About My Baby’s Development, What Can I Do, is presented by PTI Nebraska.
If You Are Concerned
If you notice these signs in your child, it is important to act early and contact a doctor or nurse to share your concerns, especially if you notice a dramatic loss of skills at any age. If you or your doctor is still concerned, ask the doctor for a referral to a specialist who can take a closer look at your child and the symptoms they may exhibit. A specialist may be a Child Psychologist, a Child Neurologist, or Developmental Pediatricians.
When you are seeking a doctor’s opinion, also call the school district in which you reside. You do not need a referral for this process. The public school system can provide a free evaluation to find out if your child qualifies for intervention services.
To learn more about developmental milestones, visit Learn the Signs. Act Early, a campaign designed by CDC and a coalition of partners to teach parents, health care professionals, and child care providers about early childhood development, including possible signs of autism spectrum disorders.