What are the warning signs of autism in children?

signs of autism
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Novice and seasoned parents alike are increasingly vigilant about their children’s development. While some children meet motor, language, and social milestones according to schedule, others are slow to demonstrate the skills that parents anticipate.  Sometimes, there is a fine line between children who are developing normally, and children who are exhibiting developmental delays. The cause of autism in not yet known and it affects each child differently.  Some children are mildly affected, while others experience severe symptoms.  Therefore, autism is considered to be a spectrum of disorders.

According to the CDC, currently, 1 in 110 children is diagnosed with autism.  Identifying 1 in 70 males, boys are four times more likely than girls to be on the autism spectrum.  Despite the strides that geneticists have made in identifying genetic markers, there is no medical “test” for autism.  Diagnoses are based on the presence or absence of behaviors as reported by parents and observed by clinicians.

During clinical interviews, many parents report that they were concerned early on about their child.  Often, they were encouraged to wait for the child’s skills to improve with time.  What should parents be looking for? There are a few “red flags,” related to the absence or limited use of certain critical skills.  Some examples of warning signs parents should look for are:

  • Not using social smiles or joyful expressions by six months or eye contact when their name is called by twelve months
  • Not using back-and-forth sharing of sounds, facial expressions or face-to-face play by nine months
  • Not using gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving or playing social games by 12 months
  • Not using independent two-word meaningful phrases by 24 months and not following 2-to-3 step directions at three years.
  • Presenting a loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age

For more information please visit www.marcus.org.

About Tips Provider:

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, one of the leading pediatric healthcare systems in the country, is pleased to offer health and safety tips for parents and children. Children’s is a not-for-profit organization that benefits from the generous philanthropic and volunteer support of our community. Operating three hospitals with more than half a million patient visits annually, Children’s is recognized for excellence in cancer, cardiac, neonatal, orthopaedic and transplant services, as well as many other pediatric specialties.

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1 Comment

  • Derek Greene January 17, 2012 at 12:51 am

    Neither of my older boys talked much before their 2nd birthday. In fact my oldest son didn’t talk at all until after his 2nd birthday, we had him evaluated by Early intervention and then a week later he started talking in short sentences. Go figure! I wouldn’t be too worried but it’s good you are having him evaluated and taking a proactive approach. I would just keep interacting with him as much as possible, pointing and telling him what everything is, praise him when he mimicks you and tries. Each child develops differently so try not to compare him too much to your older children. Keep doing what you are doing and express your concerns to the speech therapist. And also try to cut back on tv time! It provides no enrichment for him, the best thing you can do is interact and be with him.

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