Autism spectrum disorder, or more commonly referred to as autism, is defined by a broad range of conditions that affect social interaction and communication. People with autism may communicate, learn, and think differently from most people. Many children will show signs of autism early on in their first few months, while others will not show many behaviors until after 2-3 years (“Screening and Diagnosis”).
General signs include:
- Loss of previously acquired speech/babbling/other forms of communication
- Avoiding of eye contact
- Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings
- Persistent repetition of words, phrases, or other behaviors
- Resistance to changes in routine
- Intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights, colors, and other feelings
- Delayed language development (“Learn the Signs”)
- By 9 months:
- Lack of back and forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions
- By 12 months:
- Little to no babbling, gestures (pointing, waving, etc), or response to name
- By 16 months:
- Little to no words
- By 24 months:
- Little to no two-word phrases
- By 9 months:
Not all children with autism show all the signs, while many without autism show some of the signs. Because of this, professional evaluation is essential because there are no medical tests to diagnose the disorder. To find more information about diagnosing autism spectrum disorder, see the CDC’s screening and diagnosis page.
“Learn the Signs of Autism.” Autism Speaks, https://www.autismspeaks.org/signs-autism.
“Screening and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Mar. 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/screening.html#ref.