Early Signs of Autism Spectrum

Parents and others often wonder what the early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder might be. Research indicates that as early as 18 months many with Autism may not display a skill called Joint Attention. This skill is often screened for by pediatricians around the 18 months mark for children. Joint attention is a skill when one individual alerts another to an object by means of eye-gazing, pointing or other verbal or non-verbal indications. An individual gazes at another individual, points to an object and then returns their gaze to the individual.

Although this is used as a screening tool, it by itself is not a definitive diagnosis for Autism. For that diagnostic testing is often provided as early as 2 years old with an average diagnosis age of 2 ½ years old. There are 3 categories for having autism that includes specific characteristics. Those categories are language, social skills, and what are called stereotypic, repetitive, and perseverative behaviors. One must have deficits in all 3 categories to be diagnosed with Autism. 

Some early signs of these areas are regression of language skills around the 2 to 2 ½-year-old mark. In addition, a delay or non-development of language is often a concerning warning sign that something might be occurring. Other early signs might be that a child does not want to be around peers and interacts very little to none with other children. They may gravitate towards adults and/or much younger children. Another warning sign is that they display stereotypic, repetitive, and perseverative behaviors. The behaviors can be things such as lining up objects over and over again, rocking back and forth, flapping their arms, or verbal behaviors such as repeating phrases from a movie or song over and over again. To see how Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) can help, contact us today.