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My son's loss of speech was the biggest red flag for us, but it wasn't until after Jake was diagnosed with an ASD that we were able to look back at what were identified as other early infancy red flags. Jake had trouble nursing (an early sign of oral motor issues), had an unusual combat crawl where he dragged himself across the floor (an early sign of gross motor issues, which involve the larger muscle groups), and didn't walk until he was sixteen months old (quite late according to developmental charts). Other parents report not noticing infancy or toddler warning signs until years later when they watched early home videos of their children. It was only then they observed that their children didn't imitate or engage in pretend play or know how to grip a crayon when they were supposed to.
Researchers are now convinced that the earlier children are diagnosed, the greater the chances that they will receive the maximum benefit from treatment intervention. These benefits can include improvements in symptoms and ability to enter a mainstream classroom. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for ASD at both 18 months and 24 months of age to maximize the chance they will be detected early and enter an intervention program.