Does your child have autism? How can you tell? As a parent, especially a new parent, you probably don’t know every detail about your child and his or her development. You might not find a specific behavior unusual early on, shrugging it off as “normal” or just a “phase”. However, when we ignore these symptoms for some time, it may be too late for pediatricians to address the problem.
Hence, one of the most important things you can do as a parent is to learn the early signs of autism and become familiar with the typical developmental milestones that your child should be reaching. For example, at 10 months, your child should be able to say mama or dada. In addition, at 10 months, your child should also be able to point at objects and can start following one step commands. Anything that deviates from these milestones may be considered suspicious.
What is autism anyway? Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in infancy and early childhood, causing delays in many basic areas of development, such as learning to talk, play, and interact with others. The signs and symptoms of autism vary widely. Some autistic children have only mild impairments, while others have more obstacles to overcome.
Appropriate screening can determine whether a child is at risk for autism as young as one year. While every child develops differently, we also know that early treatment improves outcomes.
The following signs may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, please don’t delay seeking consult with your pediatrician:
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
To help you assess your child’s development, print out a list of developmental milestones and post it somewhere for everyone in the family to see. Next to each milestone, mark when, or if, your child actually met that milestone. On your next consult with your pediatrician, show him or her this list as it can be very helpful information.