Early Warning Signs

The following information is being used with permission from the Autism Speaks web site.

Research now suggests that children as young as one year old can show some early warning signs of autism. The most important thing you can do as a parent or caregiver is to learn the early signs of autism and understand the typical developmental milestones your child should be reaching at different ages. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, don’t wait. Speak to your doctor about screening your child for autism. While validated screening for autism starts typically only as young as 16 months, the best bet for younger children is to have their development screened at every visit with a highly validated developmental screening tool. If your child does have autism, in the absence of a cure, early intervention may provide the best chance for successful outcomes.

The following red flags may indicate a child is at risk for atypical development and is in need of an immediate evaluation.

In clinical terms, there are a few “absolute indicators.” More often we refer to “red flags” as indicators that a child should be evaluated. For a parent, these are the signs that your child should be screened to ensure that he is on the right developmental path. If your baby shows any of these signs, please ask your pediatrician or family practitioner for an immediate 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 or thereafter
  • 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 two-word meaningful phrases (without imitating or repeating) by 24 months
  • Any loss of speech or babbling or social skills at any age

*This information has been provided by First Signs, Inc. ©2001-2005. Reprinted with permission.  For more information about recognizing the early signs of developmental and behavioral disorders, please visit http://www.firstsigns.org or the Centers for Disease Control.