As our understanding of autism grows, more and more children are being diagnosed and treated for the disorder. Any pediatrician could tell you about how often parents ask about how to identify behaviors in their child. While the causes for autism are still being researched and debated within the medical community, there are certain identifiers that you can look for in your child. Remember, a trustworthy diagnosis can usually only be made once the child has reached age two.
Repetitive behaviors such as moving certain body parts repeatedly or becoming obsessive about certain objects can be early signs of the disorder. For children around 6 months this is very normal, but it may be something to pay attention to if it still occurs after the 12 month mark.
Inability to smile or show emotions such as joy by the age of 6 months is cause for concern. While many children progress at different speeds, this may be a sign to look for early on.
Problems with verbal communication may be a sign that you should discuss with your pediatrician. Most children are able to begin making talk-like noise by the age of 12 months.
At the one year mark, most children are able to respond to visual cues such as pointing to objects across the room. Similarly, a lack of waving or communicative gestures by your child may also be an early sign of an autism spectrum disorder.
Early on in a child's development there is definitely some wiggle room for progression, but there are a few things that should be taken seriously and should be discussed with a pediatrician immediately. If your child is unable to speak after 16 months, talk to your doctor. If by 2 years, your child is unable to string a two-word phrase together then you should consult your doctor immediately.
Autism spectrum disorders, while becoming more common, are still very complicated and much is unknown about them. You will always be better off if you are well versed on the subject before talking to your doctor.
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