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How to Spot the Early Signs of Autism

How to Spot the Early Signs of Autism

Parents of autistic children often wish they've spotted the signs earlier. So what are the early signs of autism in babies and how can you spot them?

What is Autism?
Autism is a spectrum of disorders that exhibit a number of common symptoms. Such symptoms can cause delays in development including speech, communication, play, and general interaction and learning.

What are the early symptoms of Autism in babies and toddlers?

  • Doesn’t make eye contact when being breastfed or after breastfeeding
  • Doesn't smile when smiled at.
  • Doesn't respond to his or her name or to the sound of a familiar voice.
  • Doesn’t follow objects within 30 cm.
  • Doesn’t make coo or make noises to grab your attention.
  • Doesn’t respond to cuddling or attention.
  • Doesn’t imitate your movements and facial expressions.
  • Doesn’t reach out to be picked up
  • Doesn’t like to play or communicate with others in the direct environment
  • Doesn’t ask for help or make other basic requests.

What milestones should I look out for in determining if my child is autistic?
While each child grows at a different rate, there are certain milestones that may require further investigation if missed by your pediatrician.

  • By 6 months: No smiling or joyful expressions
  • By 9 months: No sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions.
  • By 12 months: Doesn't respond to name
  • By 12 months: No babbling or “baby talk.”
  • By 12 months: No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving.
  • By 16 months: No spoken words.
  • By 24 months: No meaningful two-word phrases that don’t involve imitating or repeating.

How will my doctor diagnose autism?
When suspecting autism, your doctor will examine your child thoroughly. Physical and mental tests will be conducted, in addition to weight and height assessments. Your pediatrician might also test for any lead poisoning as many autistic children continue to put undesirable objects in their mouth until 3 or 5 years of age. Family history and chromosomal tests may be needed to further assess the severity of autism.

Can autism be cured?
While there is no cure for autism, misdiagnosis can lead parents to believe that autism has resolved at a later age. Recent studies show that 38% of autistic children are found to be "cured" at a later stage.

Do not mistake this for a cure; this is simply a case of misdiagnosis. Make sure you take a second or third opinion if your child is diagnosed with autism.

To read more about Autism, check out our Autism Guide.

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