Early signs of autism in toddlers can be identified even if it’s overwhelming to do so at first. To even think there’s anything different about your child can be difficult. But early intervention and knowing if and where your child is on the autism spectrum can make a huge impact. Here’s how you can spot autism symptoms in your toddler or even at an earlier age!
Signs Of Autism In Toddlers | What To Spot
In this article:
- What Is Autism And What Causes It?
- What Are The Early Signs Of Autism?
- How To Spot Early Signs Of Autism In Toddlers
- What To Do Next?
What Is Autism And What Causes It?
Conventional wisdom teaches us almost all individuals hit developmental milestones around the same time. We begin to grasp things, walk, talk, and explore at around the same ages. If any of these skills don’t manifest within the age-appropriate timeframe, this could imply the presence of a neurodevelopmental disorder.
When social and communication skills are somewhat delayed, it can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness in your child. From this springs the word “autism” which comes from the word auto meaning “self.” Children with autism are sometimes self-isolating. These autistic tendencies make it difficult for others to connect with them.
Autism points to a combination of genetic and environmental causes. Certain infections during pregnancy and substance abuse are probable causes. Vaccination was once thought to be one of the causes but later research has since disproved this.
Diagnoses will determine whether a case is an autism spectrum disorder. Asperger’s syndrome or autistic disorder is now included in autistic spectrum disorder. Diagnoses will be a long process and your role as parents will be crucial for early intervention.
What Are The Early Signs Of Autism?
Autism is characterized not only by one symptom but a combination of three or more symptoms. While a larger percentage show late development in these respects, others show superior skills in certain areas. Here are some of the early signs of autism every parent should know.
1. Social Development
Children with autism lack basic social skills. At an early stage, they are not able to identify facial expressions. Social interaction or making and maintaining friends is difficult for individuals with autism. They show little to no sympathy for others but will develop an attachment to their caregiver.
Problems in communication are the earliest sign of autism. A child with autism will show no response to sounds. They won’t also respond to their name when called. As they grow older, they will have difficulty starting and stopping a conversation. Most often they resort to non-verbal communication or two-word phrases.
3. Repetitive Behavior
One of the distinctive characteristics of children with ASD is the tendency for repetitive behaviors. Stereotyped behaviors such as flailing of the hands and head rolling are indications of this tick. Other repetitive behaviors include compulsive behavior and self-injurious behaviors.
4. Superior Skills
Some people with autism develop certain skills far superior to others. This is despite other developmental delays. They show rare abilities or talents in memorization, perception, or attention. Albert Einstein is even believed to have some form of Asperger syndrome (a kind of high-functioning autism). He exhibited late development in his early years.
How To Spot Early Signs Of Autism In Toddlers
As parents, we are in the best position to track children’s development. Here are some simple tests to help you identify irregularities in your child’s behavior.
1. Autism Symptoms From Birth to 12 Months
Early signs of autism in babies can be spotted as early as 6 months old. While cuddling and cooing, observe your baby’s reaction. Does he/she respond to the sounds you make? Does he/she look at you? Take a rattle and give it a shake on one side and see if he/she follows the sound. Your baby should be able to follow the source of the sound in three seconds. If they struggle with this, then this could be one of the early warning signs of autism.
2. Signs Of Autism In 1 Year Old To 18 Months Old
At 16 months old, your baby should be able to say a single word like ma-ma or da-da. Observe your child’s speech development. If he/she is unable to utter a few words or is only parroting or repeating words heard from the television, pay close attention. A child with autism won’t be able to utter words with perceived meaning. He or she will be able to utter “ma” or “da” but with no reference to the person addressed.
3. Autism Symptoms In 2 Years Old Or Older
Autism symptoms in toddlers are now more pronounced. Developmental delays are much more obvious. At this age, they should be able to interact with you like other toddlers. They should also be able to express two-word phrases with meaning. Take note if your child begins to avoid eye contact or doesn’t play with you or other children. A child with autism will not maintain eye contact or exhibit selective mutism. He/she will not find interest or pleasure at the prospect of playing with you.
What To Do Next?
These tests are not meant to self-diagnose. But your observations will help your doctor determine if your child needs further observation. As parents, we have certain instincts when it comes to our children. Heed your intuition and don’t wait for further symptoms. Your early intervention can help your child get much-needed professional care. An autism diagnosis or having a child on the spectrum may make parenting a little more challenging. But a child diagnosed with autism early on is found to have positive effects on their overall development. Make sure you have the right support and knowledge to get you through this different style of parenting.
Watch this video from Kennedy Krieger Institute for more details on how to spot signs of autism in your toddlers:
Now, you know how to spot signs of autism in toddlers. Be on the lookout for these early warning signs or symptoms of autism. Then seek help from your healthcare provider straight away. With your observations, you can better inform your doctor. You can help support the necessary actions for your child sooner, too!
Did you find some insights into the signs of autism in toddlers? Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and leave them in the comments section below!
Editor’s Note – This post was originally published on December 18, 2017 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.