Autism: Learn the Signs

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 April is World Autism Month

One in 59 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with autism today, and research tells us that for people with autism, early intervention leads to the best outcomes. That’s why learning the signs and knowing the steps to take following a diagnosis are so important.

Source: Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks Light it Up Blue - Chicago Children's Museum Autism Awareness Celebration
Photo credit: Getty Images for Autism Speaks 
Though the average age of diagnosis is 4, autism can be reliably diagnosed by 18 months in most cases. Not all children with autism show all the signs. Many children who don’t have autism show a few. That’s why professional evaluation is crucial.
The following signs may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, please don’t delay in asking your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation:By 6 months• Few or no big smiles or other warm, joyful and engaging expressions.• Limited or no eye contact.
By 9 months• Little or no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions

 

By 12 months

• Little or no babbling

• Little or no back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving

• Little or no response to name.

 

By 16 months

• Very few or no words.

 

By 24 months
• Very few or no meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating)
 
At any age
• Loss of previously acquired speech, babbling or social skills
• Avoidance of eye contact
• Persistent preference for solitude
• Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings
• Delayed language development• Persistent repetition of words or phrases (echolalia)
• Resistance to minor changes in routine or surroundings
• Restricted interests
• Repetitive behaviors (flapping, rocking, spinning, etc.)
• Unusual and intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colors
 
If you have concerns, get your child screened and contact your healthcare provider.
The M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers) can help you determine if a professional should evaluate your child. This simple online autism screen, available on AutismSpeaks.org takes only a few minutes. If the answers suggest your child is at risk for autism, please consult your child’s doctor. Likewise, if you have any other concerns about your child’s development, don’t wait. Speak to your doctor now about screening your child for autism. 
 
Please visit autismspeaks.org for more information. Autism Speaks’ Autism Response Team can help you with information, resources, and opportunities. Call us at 888-288-4762 (en Español 888-772-9050) or email familyservices@autismspeaks.org.