Autism in Infants & Toddlers: What Should you Look for?

Today, it’s really not possible to diagnose an infant younger than 18 months with autism. If you are concerned, however, you can always monitor and track your child’s growth and development milestones.

There are some very useful checklists as well as growth and development tables available at http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/ActEarly/ccp/downloadmaterials.html for children of all ages. These milestones do not apply to just autism.

You should look to see if your infant is not meeting any of these normal milestones.  It is important to remember, however, that all children and infants develop at a different pace. Just because your infant does not reach a certain milestone on the normal cycle does not mean your child has autism or any other condition, it just might mean you should consult your physician.

Below are some of the red flags you should watch for in your infant to make sure he or she is developing at the right pace. If any of the following occur, it is a good idea to seek advice from your pediatrician or family physician:

By 18 Months of Age:

  •     Does not search for objects that are hidden while he or she watches
  •     Says no single words (“mama” or “dada”)
  •     Does not learn to use gestures, such as waving or shaking head
  •     Does not point to objects or pictures
  •     Experiences a dramatic loss of skills he or she once had

By 24 Months of Age:

  •     Cannot walk by 18 months
  •     Fails to develop a mature heel-toe walking pattern after several months of walking, or walks only on his toes Does not speak at least 15 words
  •     Does not use two-word sentences by age 2
  •     By 15 months, does not seem to know the function of common household objects (brush, telephone, bell, fork, spoon)
  •     Does not imitate actions or words by the end of this period
  •     Does not follow simple instructions by age 2
  •     Cannot push a wheeled toy by age 2
  •     Experiences a dramatic loss of skills he or she once had

Entry Filed under: Early Signs

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