Although most children with autism are not identified until they are at least three years of age, there are some warning signs parents may observe earlier.
Dr. Rebecca Landa is the director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. She has suggested parents of children six months of age and older look for the following ten signs during playtime:
1. The child smiles rarely when approached by familiar people.
2. The child does not imitate the sounds and movements of others (e.g. smiling and laughing), or this is rare.
3. Babbling is infrequent or delayed.
4. No response to his or her name from 6-12 months old.
5. No gesturing to communicate by 10 months of age.
6. Lack of eye contact.
7. Does not seek attention on a regular basis.
8. Stiffens up, has uncommon postures, or displays repetitive movements such as hand flapping.
9. Does not reach out to be picked up.
10. Motor delays such as in rolling over, pushing up, or crawling.
What should you do if you have concerns? Contact your pediatrician for screening, or your local office of Early Childhood Intervention for additional testing.