Early and Common Signs of Autism in Babies

Many parents and guardians are becoming increasingly concerned about having a child born with autism. These fears are in no way unjustified as there is an increasing risk of a child today being born with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Current research findings show that 1 of 50 children are diagnosed with autism before they turn eight years old. This is up from 1 in 88 children from previous years.

Fears about autism are fears of the unknown, as there is still much that needs to be uncovered about the disorder. To date, researchers have discovered autism to be a set of characteristics which affect the cognitive development, speech and behavior of children and adults. Fortunately, research into the disorder is still ongoing and some progress has been made. This article will highlight some of the key signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorder and will hopefully help put some of those fears to rest.

Early Signs of Autism in Babies

Autism generally presents itself in the early years of a baby’s or toddler’s life. Finding these signs of autism in babies from as early as 18 months can make a huge difference in effectively helping your child to develop as normally as possible. This is a credit to the amazing plasticity of a young brain which is still developing. Some signs to look out for include the following:

  • Does not make eye contact
  • Does not try to get your attention
  • Does not smile back at you
  • Does not respond to hisname
  • Will not follow objects with his eyes
  • Does not use hand signals to communicate
  • Does not look in the direction you’re pointing
  • Does not try to be cuddled
  • Does not copy actions or facial expressions
  • Does not try to be picked up
  • Does not make any efforts to play or interact with others
  • Does not make basic requests

Take a look at the development delays you should watch out for at different stages of the baby’s development.

Month of Age


6 months

Your baby does not smile warmly or express signs of affection.

9 months

Your baby does not reciprocate smiles, facial expressions or sounds.

12 months

Your baby does not respond to his name.

Your baby does not engage in gestures, such as pointing or waving.

Your baby does not babble or engage in “baby talk.”

16 months

Your baby does not speak or say words.

24 months

Your baby does not come up with two or three word phrases on his own.

9 Most Common Signs of Autism in Babies

Not all the autisic children will show any of the early signs mentioned above, but if you discover any of the most common signs of autism in babies as listed below, there's a big chance that your baby have autism. In this case, you need to take him/her to see a doctor to make a conclusion.  

1. Lack of Social Communication Skills

Interacting with others is often difficult for children with autism spectrum disorder. They usually appear disconnected from their peers and any social setting that they are a part of. Children with autism may not seem to be aware of what is going on around them, whether or not this is actually the case. Connecting and making friends is also often a great challenge. To other children, they may seem reserved and aloof and this may cause them to be left alone. They may not always get involved in games. The autistic child will not readily share their experiences, toys or drawings and so onin the same way that non-autistic children do to build solidarity.

2. Inability to Communicate Feelings

Sharing thoughts, opinions and feelings is not an easy thing for a child with autism. This is not to say that an autistic child is completely devoid of feelings and emotions. However, there is difficulty tapping into those emotions and expressing them. The autistic child is more likely to express himself blandly and refer more to events and facts than opinions. Even if you’re sharing on the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to you, you are not likely to get much excitement in return. If there is a topic which the autistic child finds interesting, he may talk about it a lot but still without exchanging his feelings on the subject.

3. Expression Difficulties

  • Verbal expression difficulties: Speech and language are a challenge for a child with autism. He usually begins speaking later than other children. He usually speaks in an abnormal voice or tone, using the incorrect notation. He may repeat words or phrases and have poor grammar. Instructions may be hard to understand and he may also be unable to pick up on verbal cues, such as sarcasm and humor.   
  • Non-verbal expression difficulties: Nonverbal expression is no less a challenge than verbal expression for a child with autism. The child very rarely makes eye contact and has difficulty using and understanding non-verbal forms of expression such as facial expressions or body language. Sometimes an autistic child may also have unique posture and movements, such as walking only on tip toes.

4. Obsession & Inflexibility

Children with autism tend to follow strict routines and can be obsessive and inflexible in their actions and behaviors. And it is too difficult for these children to adjust to changes in their daily schedule, such as a slight change in sleep time. There may also be compulsive behaviors such as arranging items in neat rows or choosing specific bits of information to commit to memory.

5. Resistance to Physical Contact

Autistic children will not readily reach out for a hug or accept one. This can be the same even with parents or very close relatives. It is not correct, however, to make a conclusion that all autistic children are like this. With practice, many of them will hug their parents, siblings, and even other close relatives and friends.

6. Sensitive to Noises, Smells & Lights

Children with autism usually dislike sudden or loud noises. It is the same case with smells, sudden changes of lighting intensity and ambient temperature. It is believed that autistic children are just less capable to prepare themselves for the sudden changes.

7. Unpredictable Learning Ability

There is no definitive evidence on how much faster or slower a child with autism learns in comparison to their peers.They may learn some things really fast but totally forget them later. It is also possible for them to learn things in their own way which is often more difficult than the way normal people do.

8. Inharmony in Development

A child with autism may not develop as harmoniously in all areas as other children do. Cognitive development may develop faster, while language developmentfalls behind. What is usually the case, however, is that the child with autism will develop in social skills at a much slower pace than his counterparts.

9. Physical Tics

It is quite common for a child with autism spectrum disorder to have physical tics which are jerky movements and usually hard to control, such as tapping his ears or repeating words. Although we may not understand, the tics can sometimes be quite calming and enjoyable for the child. 

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