According to the latest CDC data, one in 88 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As if that statistic weren’t already very disturbing, the rate for boys is even worse, with one in 54 being diagnosed with an ASD.
While there’s still much more research to be done into the causes of autism and a possible cure, the best way to arm ourselves at this time is to be informed. People with autism have been shown to do much better when there’s early intervention during childhood.
To ensure the best future for your child, learn the signs of autism below:
- Babbling. Your child should start babbling at around six months. Look out for this.
- Eye contact. At around six to nine months, your baby should be making eye contact and smile when making eye contact with his parents. Children with autism, however, tend to avoid eye contact.
- Mimicking games. When your baby begins to make sounds, imitate them back to him. A baby should participate in this game, and other similar ones like peek-a-boo. A child with autism will not participate.
- Responding to his own name. At around ten months, your child should respond to his name being called. Children with autism will ignore people calling their name and will not attempt to get people’s attention either. (Note: have your child’s hearing tested if you observe this to rule out a hearing deficiency.)
- One year milestones. At around one year old, your child should be pointing, waiving, grasping objects, and attempting to speak. A child with autism might not do these things.
- Sensitivity to sound and touch. Children with autism are unusually sensitive to loud noises. They also do not like being touched or cuddled, and may under-react to pain.
- Fixations. Does your child fixate on a favorite object? Children with autism often do to the point of ignoring other people and even other toddlers.
- Repetitive movements. Children with autism commonly rock back and forth, flap their hands, and twirl in circles.
- Set in their ways. Children with autism are very resistant to change and will not react positively towards a change in their routines.
- 18 months, two year milestones. At around 18 months, your baby should have a vocabulary of around 12 words, and at around 24 months, he should use two-word sentences. If this is not the case, or if your child seems to be regressing in speech or behavior development at around this time, it could be a sign of autism.
If your child displays any of these signs, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he has autism. However, you should still bring your concerns and observations to your pediatrician as soon as possible for further evaluation.