The main signs and symptoms of autism involve problems with communication, social interactions, and stereotyped or repetitive behavior and restricted interests. According to the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD), red flags for parents of young children may include some or many of the behaviors within the following categories:

 

Communication

Social Features

 

Stereotyped/

Repetitive Behavior

Other Characteristics

 

Does not respond to his/her name by 12 months of age

 

Cannot explain what he/she wants

 

Language skills are slow to develop or speech is delayed

 

Doesn't follow directions

 

Seems to hear sometimes, but not other times

 

Doesn't point or wave "bye-bye"

 

Used to say a few words or babble, but now does not

 

Doesn't smile when smiled at

 

Has poor eye contact

 

Seems to prefer to play alone

 

Seems to be in his/her "own world"

 

Seems to tune people out

 

Is not interested in other children

 

Doesn't point out interesting objects by 14 months of age

 

Doesn't like to play "peek-a-boo"

 

 

Gets "stuck" doing the same things over and over and can't move on to other things

 

Shows unusual attachments to toys, objects, or routines (for example, always holding a string or having to put on socks before pants)

 

Spends a lot of time lining things up or putting things in a certain order

 

Repeats words or phrases (sometimes called echolalia [pronounced ek-oh-LEY-lee-uh])

 

Doesn't play "make believe" or pretend by 18 months of age

 

Has odd movement patterns

 

Doesn't play with toys the way other children do

 

Walks on his/her toes

 

Doesn't imitate silly faces

 

Seems to stare at nothing or wander around with no purpose

 

Seems overly sensitive to noise

 

 

The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) is a validated developmental screening tool for toddlers between 16 and 30 months of age. It is designed to identify young children who may benefit from a more thorough developmental and autism evaluation. To take the quiz, go to https://www.m-chat.org.

 

It’s important to remember that because the symptoms of autism fall on a spectrum, there is considerable variation in the number and severity that any given child or adult may exhibit. As children grow older symptoms may change in how they are expressed, or improve with treatments.