Understanding Red Flags for Autism Spectrum Disorder

RRP 9378

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex neurological disorder that affect individuals in two core areas:

  • Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts
  • Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities

Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder are observable in the very early development of a young child and often cause clinically significant impairments in many areas of the child’s early development. 

Although the presentation of symptoms of autism will vary greatly across each individual child, there are some common red flags that may be indicators of autism if present during a child’s early development.

The presence for these red flags does NOT guarantee an autism diagnosis but rather may be a starting point to discuss with a pediatrician or early childhood development professional to access further screening:

  • No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
  • No words by 16 months
  • No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
  • Not imitating actions or movements by 24 months
  • Fixating on objects that spin or turn
  • Not engaging in pretend play by the age of 24 months
  • Having significant difficulty attending to tasks
  • Getting overly upset with change or transition from activity to activity
  • Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age

To access a free screening tool for autism spectrum disorder in very young children- the M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers)- click the link below: