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Identifying the Disorder

The National Institute of Mental Health states that symptoms of autism spectrum disorder vary from one child to the next, but all demonstrate deficits in three areas:

  1. Social interaction
  2. Verbal and nonverbal communication
  3. Repetitive behaviors or interests

Each of these symptoms runs the gamut from mild to severe. They will present in each individual child differently. For instance, a child may have little trouble learning to read but exhibit extremely poor social interaction. Each child will display communication, social, and behavioral patterns that are individual but fit into the overall diagnosis of ASD.

The following warning signs or “red flags” should be considered as indicators for investigating the possibility of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and does not mean a child has an ASD. That requires a diagnostic process from a team of professionals.

6-12 Month Markers:

  • Infrequent eye contact
  • Failure to orient to name
  • Does not smile in response to smiles from others
  • Social and emotional passivity
  • Fixation on objects

By 12 Months:

  • Poor or no eye contact
  • Failure to orient to name
  • Poor imitation
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • No gesturing by 12 months

By 16 Months:

  • No single words by 16 months
  • No pointing to objects or events of interest in an effort to share

By 24 Months:

  • No spontaneous two-word phrases
  • Loss of any language or social skills at any age

Learn more about identifying ASD: