Early Signs of Autism in Children: What Parents Need to Know

Updated on July 7, 2024

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects children in unique ways, influencing their social interactions, communication skills, and behaviors. Recognizing the early signs of autism can help parents seek timely intervention that could make a significant difference in their child’s development. Here, we explore these signs and provide insights on when to consider professional advice.

Social Communication and Interaction Challenges

Children with autism often exhibit noticeable differences in how they interact with others. Here are some signs parents might observe on their own, before even confirming autism through cognitive assessments:

  • Limited Eye Contact: Infants typically start making eye contact shortly after birth. A child with autism might avoid eye contact or seem unusually indifferent to the gaze of others.
  • Delayed Speech Development: While variations in development are normal, children with autism might not meet typical language milestones, or they may lose previously acquired speech skills.
  • Unusual Response to Social Cues: A child may not respond to their name by the age of 12 months, may not play “pretend” games by 18 months, or may generally seem uninterested in interacting with peers and family.

Repetitive Behaviours and Restricted Interests

Another core aspect of autism is the presence of repetitive behaviors and restricted interests, which can appear in various forms:

  • Repetitive Movements: These can include actions such as rocking, spinning, or hand-flapping performed repeatedly.
  • Routine Dependence: Children with autism may become distressed at changes in routine or transitions between activities.
  • Focused Interests: Intense or focused interest in specific topics can be a sign, especially if the child exhibits an unusually deep knowledge of the subject at a young age.

Sensory Sensitivity

Many children with autism have heightened or reduced sensitivity to sensory input, which can manifest as:

  • Avoidance or Seeking of Sensory Experiences: This can range from an aversion to certain textures and sounds to a fascination with lights, spinning objects, or tactile sensations.
  • Overwhelmed by Sensory Overload: Noisy or visually busy environments might be particularly challenging, causing distress or anxiety.

Cognitive and Developmental Variations

Cognitive development can also be an indicator. Parents might notice:

  • Delays in Meeting Milestones: These can include crawling, walking, or other motor skills, in addition to speech and social skills.
  • Play Patterns: Children with autism might not engage in typical imaginative play but instead might focus on parts of toys (like the wheels of a car) rather than playing with the toy as intended.

For a deeper understanding of your child’s cognitive development, and to determine the right steps if you notice any developmental delays or concerns, consider consulting with a professional who can conduct comprehensive cognitive assessments.

When to Seek Help

If you observe several of these signs consistently, it may be beneficial to seek an evaluation from a developmental specialist. Early diagnosis and intervention can provide critical support to children with autism, helping to enhance their learning, communication, and social skills from a young age.

Being vigilant about early signs of autism and seeking professional guidance promptly can help maximize a child’s potential. While the journey may seem daunting, early intervention and tailored support can lead to significant positive outcomes in your child’s life.

14556571 1295515490473217 259386398988773604 o

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.