Autism in babies

Autism in babies : Signs and How to deal with it

September 25, 2019


It is every parent’s dream to watch their baby grow. However, the rate of development varies from child to child but even so, when your child fails to reach certain milestones, you may have reasons to worry.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be recognized by a parent when their baby is about 6 months or even earlier. The ideal age to catch the disease symptoms is within 18 months so that corrective measures can be taken to help your child learn, develop and prosper.

What is Autism?

Autism is the wide range of conditions that affects the development of social skills, speech and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors. The condition is tricky to deal with because it exists in many different types mostly influenced by environmental and genetic factors.

Because autism is a spectrum disease, each child suffering from it will have a distinct set of challenges and strengths. The effects of the condition on how the patient learn, think, and solve a problem can vary from severely challenged to highly skilled. Some patients may live completely independent without much support, while others may require significant efforts and support daily.

While the symptoms and effects vary from child to child, every child suffering from the condition can experience the following early signs of autism:

  • Difficult communicating both verbally and nonverbally
  • Inflexible thinking and behaving
  • Difficult relating to others and the environment
Autism in babies

The real cause of autism is not known, and doctors, experts, and parents have different opinions as to what causes the condition as well as how to best treat it. However, everyone tend to agree on one thing, which is, early detection and intervention can significantly help. So, as a parent, make sure that you are aware of the early signs of the condition as this can make a huge difference.

At this point, the most logical question running in your mind is, how do I know if my baby is autistic?

Well, here are things to check on your baby as he or she develops and grows.

How to spot the early signs of autism

Parents are in the best position to detect the warning signs of autism. As a parent, you know your baby more than anyone else and you will notice any unusual behaviors and quirks that even a pediatrician might not see. Trust your instincts and react accordingly. If you have doubts about how your baby plays, speak, moves, or learn, visit your pediatrician immediately. As a parent, it is important to establish a healthy partnership with your pediatrician for the benefit of your child.


To be able to spot the early signs of autism, you need to properly educate yourself.

Monitor your baby’s development

A child with autism will experience a variety of growth and development delays, so this could be the first red flag to look out for. Be attentive when or if your baby is reaching key emotional, cognitive, and social milestones. This way, you will be able to spot any worrying signs before things get out of control. It is, however, worth noting that not all development delays signify autism.

React quickly if you have concerns

Children develop at a different pace and it is common for a child to take long to talk or walk. But if the baby is not hitting the key milestones for his or her age, or you have instincts that something is wrong, take actions by checking with your doctor immediately.

Don’t do wait-and-see

When it comes to autism, as we have seen, detecting it early can go a long way to contain it. So if you feel there is something wrong with your baby, don’t lose valuable time when there is still a great chance for your baby to improve. Even if the growth delay is not caused by autism, you still want to know what the problem is. Don’t wait for him or her to just grow out of it.

Trust your instincts

Again, if you feel something is wrong, take the right actions. Even if the doctor already gave negative results, sometimes they can miss or underestimate the signs. It is always good to have a second opinion from another doctor.

Signs of autism in babies

The advantage of detecting autism in infancy is that the doctors can take advantage of the underdeveloped brain to treat the condition. Generally, autism can be effectively diagnosed at the age of 24 months and over, but symptoms can be seen between 12 and 18 months. When it is detected early, the brain of the baby can be rewired and reverse the condition.

The early red flags are typically the absence of normal or abnormal behaviors. Sometimes the symptoms can be a positive thing, for example, a baby may seem undemanding and quite. But if you know exactly what you are looking for, the symptoms won’t fool you.

Early signs

If your child doesn’t do the following:

  • Respond to his or her name.
  • Make eye contact when being feed or smile back when smiled at.
  • Follow your gesture when you pint at things, or follow objects visually.
  • Use any gesture to communicate such as waving.
  • Make noises to communicate to you.
  • Play with others or show any interest.
  • Reach out to be picked, respond to cuddling.
  • Imitate your facial expressions or movements.
  • Care if you experience discomfort.

The developmental signs

First, I should point out that the most serious autism red flag is a regression. If your baby meets specific milestones such as talking and speaking, and then regress, you should act immediately. If your child loss gestures, speech, babbling, or social skills, you should take it very seriously.


The following development delays may be a red flag and you should react on them as soon as possible.

  • If by 6 months, your baby does not any joyful expressions or big smiles.
  • If by 9 months there are no smiles, sharing sounds back and forth, or any other facial expression.
  • By 12 months the baby doesn’t respond at all to his or her name.
  • By 12 months there is no baby talk or babbling.
  • By 12 month there are no back-forth gestures like showing, pointing, waving, or reaching out.
  • By 16 months there are no spoken words.
  • By 24 months there are no understandable two-word phrases other than repeating and imitating.

Signs and symptoms in older babies

The diversity of the signs and symptoms of autism increase as your baby get older. Meaning there are lots of red flags to check out for. Nevertheless, the signs still involve impaired social skills, language and speech difficulties, inflexible behaviors, and difficulties in non-verbal communication.

Red flags to look for

  • Doesn’t have interest or aware of other people or the world around.
  • Difficulties bonding with others, make friends or play.
  • Avoid being touched, cuddled, or held.
  • Doesn’t participate in group games, play “pretend” games, use toys, or imitate others.
  • Indifferent with his or her feelings or trouble talking about them.
  • Seem not to hear when talked to by others.
  • Doesn’t share achievements of interest with others.

Communication skills are always the number one problem for children with autism, and most of the times, they would prefer to stay alone and detached from the rest of the world.

Signs of speech impairment

Below are signs of speech and sign language impairment.

  • Repeats the same phrases of words over and over without any intention of communicating.
  • Speaks with peculiar rhythm or pitch or in an abnormal voice
  • Has problems communication his or her needs
  • Uses language incorrectly
  • Doesn’t have any sense of humor, sarcasm, and irony.

Nonverbal Communication difficulties – signs

The following is early signs of autism in verbal communication in children.

  • Avoids eye contact
  • Doesn’t pick up on facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice from other people.
  • Missuses facial expressions
  • Makes extremely few gestures

Signs of inflexibility

The signs of inflexibility in autistic children include:

  • Following a rigid routine
  • Unnatural attachment to toys or other strange items like light switches, keys, or rubber bands.
  • Has a hard time adapting to changes
  • Preoccupation with unusual topics of interest, mostly involving symbols or numbers.
  • Spend an odd amount of times watching objects in motion, such as a fan in the ceiling or wheels of a toy car.
  • Repeats same movements or actions over and over, such as rocking, twirling, or flapping hands.

What to do when you see a worrying sign on your baby

If you observe some worrying signs or your baby’s development is delayed, it is important to act quickly and schedule an appointment with your doctor. It is also recommended to have your baby screened by a pediatrician even if his or development has not delayed. Every child should receive a routine autism screening at 9, 18, and 30 months.


Actions to take

  • Schedule for autism screening

Screening should be done even if your child has hit the key development milestones. The modern screening tools are efficient and can detect even a tiny red flag that can be linked to autism.

  • See child development specialist

If autistic signs are detected, your baby should be referred to as a development specialist for proper diagnostic evaluation.

  • Get early intervention services

This is can be even more beneficial if you can manage to spot the early signs of autism.


Autism is not caused by genetic factors alone, as studies have found that environmental factors can also play a role in the development of the condition. Either way, detecting the signs early can make big differences. We hope that this article helped you understand the early signs of autism and how to deal with it.


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