National Autism Awareness Month
Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today.
What are the signs of autism?
The autism diagnosis age and intensity of autism's early signs vary widely. Some infants show hints in their first months. In others, behaviors become obvious as late as age 2 or 3.
Not all children with autism show all the signs. Many children who don't have autism may show only a few signs. That's why professional evaluation is crucial.
The following may indicate your child is at risk for ASD. If your child exhibits any of the following, ask your pediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation right away:
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.