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Parents may also notice that their child doesn't meet the physical, mental, language, and social developmental standards that most typical children reach. Their one-year-olds may not imitate their actions when they clap or wave, or respond to their smiles or names, as most one-year-olds do. Their two-year-olds may not be able to understand simple two-step instructions ("Go get your cup, and put it on the table.") or do such things as point to basic body parts (nose, ears, or eyes), identify objects, ask simple questions (or even speak at all), engage in common physical activities (jumping, running, or climbing), or draw circles and lines on paper -- as most typical two-years-olds do. Typical three- and four-year-olds play with other children and enjoy being around other kids their age. Children with autism like to play by themselves, and have rigid routines that result in frustration and outbursts when they are disturbed.
Sometimes a child with an ASD will develop unevenly -- early in some areas, yet late in others -- which can add to parents' confusion. Children may walk early and talk later or talk early but have trouble with basic motor skills such as running and jumping. Or children may develop appropriate imitation skills as an infant, but then, as they reach toddler age, they may take their imitation skills to the extreme -- copying and repeating the exact actions of other people without really understanding what they're doing. One thing that seems to be consistent is that parents of a child who is later diagnosed with autism seem to have more concerns in general at 12 months. Parents seem to have a clear sense when something is not right with their child.