Autism in Babies: Signs Every Parent Should Notice

Many parents whose child is later diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a sense that something isn't right when their child is two or three years old. Some parents pick up signs even earlier: They notice that their baby doesn't look at them, seem to recognize familiar faces or show typical baby behaviors -- such as crying when a parent leaves the room, babbling or cooing, imitating gestures such as clapping and pointing, or responding to games like peekaboo.

But there's no one infant temperament that's characterisitic of a baby with an ASD. Some parents of children with ASDs look back and describe their child as "passive," hardly making a peep and demanding very little attention. Others say their baby was hypersensitive and overly fussy; while others describe their baby's behavior as nothing out of the ordinary. According to Autism Speaks, some possible early indicators of ASDs include the following:

  • No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by 6 months or later
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by 9 months or later
  • No babbling by 12 months
  • No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
  • No words by 16 months
  • No meaningful two-word phrases (without imitating or repeating) by 2 years
  • Any loss of speech or babbling or social skills at any age
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