“How do I know if my child has autism?” If this is a question that has been plaguing your mind, it is likely that you have already seen concerning developmental delays. Whether pointed out by a loved one or observed on your own, it can be difficult to determine what these signs mean for your child. Understanding these signs and symptoms can help you determine if your child is displaying signs of autism.
Understanding the Signs
As a parent, understanding the important developmental milestones that your child may be missing is the best place to start. These common signs will provide a clearer picture of your child’s overall functioning. Your child may have autism if:
- At 6 months, your child has limited warm expressions such as big, joyful smiles and has little to no eye contact.
- At 9 months, your child has limited or no sharing of sounds, smiling, or other expressions.
- At 12 months, your child produces little or no babbling and has little or no gesturing such as pointing, waving, or reaching.
- At 16 months, your child says very few words, if any at all.
- At 24 months, your child says very few or no meaningful two-word phrases, apart from imitating or repeating what they have heard.
When considering this list, keep in mind that children with autism may not show every sign mentioned above. In addition, some children who do not have autism may exhibit some of these signs. Also, remember that these ages represent a general timeline for important developmental milestones, but actual timelines may vary depending on the child. In fact, many children with autism reach early developmental milestones at the appropriate time, but then begin to lose ground.
In addition to signs related to specific developmental milestones, there are also several signs of autism that should be considered. These signs can exhibit themselves at any age and often include:
- Repetitive behaviors such as flapping, rocking, or spinning
- Repetition of words or phrases, known as echolalia
- Loss of speech, babbling, or social skills that were previously acquired
- Difficulty adapting to new surroundings or resisting changes in routine
- Consistent avoidance of eye contact or difficulty recognizing facial expressions
- Lack of interest in the world around them and preference for solitude
- Extreme reaction to sensory stimuli such as sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights, etc.
What Are the Next Steps?
If your child is exhibiting any of these signs, the best next step is to seek a professional evaluation. Don’t wait to seek help if you are concerned about your child’s development. Your pediatrician is an excellent resource to help screen your child for symptoms of autism, and a formal evaluation by a licensed professional will help you reach a proper diagnosis. This is a crucial step for understanding your child’s world.
At LifeStance Health, we offer comprehensive autism testing services for children as young as 12 months. From the beginning steps of diagnosis, our clinicians will walk alongside you on this journey as we help your child receive the proper care. To learn more, contact us today!