BY C. DIXON
The most recent statistics show that 1 in 68 children are now being diagnosed with autism. While diagnosis is on the rise, a child typically is not diagnosed by a professional until he or she is over two years old.
However, there are signs that could indicate your child is on the spectrum as early as six months of age. Signs and symptoms can vary, as can the severity of the symptoms. Be sure to monitor your child’s development, and consult your doctor if anything concerns you. It’s important to note that autism in infants can be recognized by a lack of normal behavior, rather than the presence of strange behaviors.
9. LACK OF SMILING
Does your child smile back at you when you give her a warm, joyful smile? Does your child smile on her own? By the age of six months, your infant should be giving you big smiles or happy expressions.
8. RARE IMITATION OF SOCIAL CUES
Does your child imitate the sounds and movements of others? Does he share expressions back and forth? Infrequent imitation of sounds, smiles, laughter, and facial expressions by 9 months of age can be an early indicator of autism.
7. DELAY IN BABBLING & COOING
Is your child making “baby talk” and babbling or cooing? Does she do it frequently? Your baby should typically reach this milestone by 12 months.
6. UNRESPONSIVENESS TO NAME
Is your baby increasingly unresponsive to his or her name from 6 to 12 months of age? Parents who see this in their child are often concerned it may be hearing loss and are unaware it can be a sign of autism. If you see this behavior in your child, be sure to monitor the signs and consult a doctor.
5. POOR EYE CONTACT
Does your child make limited eye contact with you and other loved ones? Does he follow objects visually? Severe lack of eye contact as the baby grows can be an early indicator, as it is a form of communication and comprehension.
4. INFREQUENTLY SEEKING ATTENTION
Does your son initiate cuddling or make noises to get your attention? Does he reach up toward you to be picked up? Disinterest in seeking a loved one’s attention or bonding is a sign your baby may eventually have difficulty relating to others, which can be a struggle for those on the spectrum as they grow up.
3. LACK OF GESTURING
Does your son gesture at objects or people to communicate? Does he wave goodbye, point, or reach for things? This is a milestone that is typically reached by 9 or 10 months old.
2. REPETITIVE BEHAVIORS
Does your child engage in repetitive behaviors such as stiffening his arms, hands, or legs?
Does he display unusual body movements like rotating his hands on his wrists? Does he sit or stand in uncommon postures?
1. DELAYED MOTOR DEVELOPMENT
Has your daughter experienced significant delays in motor development milestones, such as rolling over, pushing herself up, and crawling?