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Early Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

A lot of children with autism might exhibit developmental issues during their toddler and infant years, particularly in the areas of language and social skills.

There might be some difficulties with spoken language, or in their interactions with their peers. But, children on the autism spectrum tend to walk, sit, or crawl walk in a timely manner. Thus, the smaller variations regarding the growth of gesturing (pointing) and pretend play, and social language tend to be ignored by parents and doctors.

This article provides information on three early signs that are indicative of autism in children who are just beginning to develop.

The delay or the lack of the collective focus or lack of joint

One of the major differences in development among children with autism spectrum disorders and those without ASD is a slowing and/or lack of joint focus. In reality, problems with joint attention are seen in the majority of children who have ASD.

What is shared attention?

Joint attention is the process of looking back and back and forth between an object or an event and another person, and making connections with that person. It’s a foundation to later social and communication abilities. Engaging in numerous back-and-forth social interactions, like exchanging many emotions, sounds, and other gestures is known as reciprocal social interactions.

The stages of joint attention for toddlers and infants

There are different stages of shared attention. Children with autism typically exhibit delayed or missing social skills at each stage.

As an example, here are the ages at which toddlers and infants generally utilize and comprehend gestures during the following times in comparison to children who are on the autism spectrum.

Making use of and understanding gestures, like the act of pointing

Aged 12 months

The majority of children will immediately glance at something their parents are pointed towards. They then turn their eyes at their parent’s face and mirror the expression of the parent typically smiling.

Children who are on the autism spectrum can appear to avoid parents. This could cause parents to be concerned about their child’s hearing.

At the age of 15 months

The majority of children can point out objects out of their reach that they want.

An autistic child spectrum may instead grasp the parent’s hand and guide the parent towards the object with little or even any eye contact. Sometimes, the child could put the parent’s hands on the object.

At the age of 18 months

Children tend to point out objects that they find interesting. Children will glance around between the object and their parent to ensure that their parents are aware of the object they are looking at.

Children who are on the autism tend to point at objects because they want parents to purchase the item for them and not because they want their parent to take pleasure in looking at the object together.

Language delays and differences in ASD

Most children who fall on the autism spectrum have difficulties with non-verbal spoken and nonverbal communication. You may be able to notice some differences, such as:

Labels and labels are used to identify products.

A child who is on the autism spectrum might have words that they use to identify objects, such as but they are not able to request items. They may also use words for objects prior to using words for family members or friends.

Repeating and echoing

The majority of children in the early years go through an era when they repeat what they have heard. Children who are on the autism spectrum might repeat what they hear over an extended period. They can also repeat conversations or dialogues from movies in the their voice. This is known as echoing or parroting.

Children later diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum may appear to have reached milestones in language in the early years of toddlerhood. However, their usage of language might be unique. For instance, they could speak more like an adult than the typical toddler.

Developmental milestones that are not met and abilities

Around 25% of the children identified with an autism spectrum disorders might acquire a language will cease suddenly or gradually use. It is common for this to happen between the between the ages of 15 and 24 months. It is also possible that they become socially isolated. This can be described as the regression of skills.

The screening of toddlers to detect ASD

The AAP suggests that all children are tested for autism spectrum disorders at the time of their 18- or 24-month check-ups for well-child health along with regular developmental monitoring. Research suggests that starting interventions as quickly as possible will improve the outcomes for children who are who are on the autism spectrum.


If you have questions about the way your child plays or learns, talks or acts discuss it with your pediatrician. Keep in mind that you are the best parent of your child so your worries are vital.

Together with your pediatrician, you will discover the most effective way to support your child. Don’t wait. Being proactive early could make a significant difference in the growth of your child.