Early Signs of Autism

While reading the early signs of autism, if you find that your child has 2 or more signs, it is important that you share your observations and concerns with a Pediatrician, Neurologist, or Psychologist who is familiar with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

6 Months:

  • doesn’t enjoy cuddling
  • does not display a social smile
  • may not notice if you speak
  • may not share eye contact
  • shared attention with parent may not be evident

12 Months:

  • prefers to play alone
  • lack of giving behavior or showing to share interest
  • lack of following a point
  • lack of or inconsistent response to name being called
  • appears to be in “own world”
  • unusual attachment to objects such as sticks or rings

15-18 months:

  • doesn’t play with toys appropriate to their function: spins, looks at them from corner of eye or reflection in glass
  • seeks out sensory stimulation that other kids don’t seem to
  • unusual fears or fearlessness
  • reduced initiations or overtures with others
  • no single words by 16 months

24 Months:

  • may not play simple pretend play, such as pretend talking on the telephone
  • may not see complex pretend play, such as having a tea party
  • might see in an interest in playing with non-toy items (strings, rocks)
  • may have little interest in toys
  • might enjoy rough housing, but not playing with others or playing with toys
  • those with speech – it may be appear “advanced” but it may be echolalic, ritualistic, scripted, and / or non-functional

Screening for Autism:

In October 2007, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that all children be screened for autism at their pediatrician Well Child visits when they are 18 and 24 months old.  However, not all pediatricians are screening for autism.  This is simply a recommendation of the AAP, not a mandate.  Thus, it is important for parents to request an autism screen from their pediatrician if they are concerned, or parents can simply complete the screen called Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) by clicking on the following link:Click Here

Please print the 23-question M-CHAT form, complete it, and then follow the scoring criteria for how to score your answers.  If the screen is failed, meaning your child is not doing 3 of the behaviors listed in the 23 questions or he is not doing 2 of the critical items listed in the 23 questions, then it is imperative that you obtain a development assessment to determine if your child is showing early signs of autism.  You can contact Dr. Julie Knapp, Pediatric Psychologist at (330) 629-2955 to request an infant and toddler evaluation that will assess your child’s development in language, socialization, play, and behaviors in order to determine if early signs of autism are present.

Early identification of autism is important because it allows for early intervention, which can correlate to better long-term outcomes.  Dr. Knapp will help the family determine if their young child is meeting milestones and not showing early signs of autism, or if their child presents with a developmental delay, a global developmental delay, a language disorder, autism, or possibly another disorder.