Early Signs of Autism

early signs of autism

If you are the parents of a child you think might be on the autism spectrum, the first thing for you to know is that you don’t have to be afraid. There is help out there that can really change things for your lovely child. And if you’ve heard that an autism diagnosis is a life sentence for your child, don’t believe it. Your child is capable of incredible growth and change – and, in quite a number of cases we’ve seen, full recovery.

But first you may be wondering…

What are the early signs of autism?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism currently affects approximately 1 in 68 children in the United States. The condition is more common in male children, who are affected 4.5 times as often as female children.

Autism varies immensely from child to child. However, some signs that parents can look for at various phases of development are detailed below.

  • At 6 months – No joyful expressions, including smiles; lack of eye contact with parents, caregivers and other familiar individuals.
  • At 9 months – No reciprocation of facial expressions or sounds made by others.
  • At 12 months – No waving, reaching, showing, pointing or babbling.
  • At 16 months – No spoken words.
  • At 24 months – No two-word phrases that are not repeated or imitated.

Other signs of autism in babies and toddlers include failure to follow moving objects visually, lack of desire for physical contact or affection and failure to respond to his or her own name. And, of course, we have the most well-known aspect of autism: repetitive behaviors, such as hand-flapping, repeating the same movie lines over and over, etc. In some cases, this may appear to you as very limited interests.

For a more in-depth look at signs of autism and what to do if you’re seeing such signs in your child, please visit our Autism Symptoms Information Page.

Although some children with autism show signs of the condition from a very early age, others develop normally for the first one, two, or even three years of life, and then begin showing more and more signs. Thus, you’ll want to notice if your child starts appearing to lose skills or stops gaining new skills at any age.

What if my child is showing signs of autism? Is there hope?

Certainly, you would always want to consult a doctor if you are unsure or if you want a medical diagnosis or opinion.

But, remember: Even if your child is diagnosed (or if you decide not to get a diagnosis but rather to initiate treatment, anyway), no matter what anyone says, your child’s future isn’t written yet. You may be feeling scared, upset, or even angry, and that’s okay if you feel that way! But there is help out there that can not only help you to feel differently, but can also give you the tools to enable your child to develop, grow, connect with you, communicate deeply with you and others, enjoy people, interact successfully with the world, and, ultimately, break through barriers that others may have told you are insurmountable. We know. We’ve been seeing this happen over and over again for well over thirty years!

So don’t let someone else determine your child’s future. You can take action and turn things around for your magnificent child!


The Autism Treatment Center of America® has been helping families facing autism since 1983. We offer programs designed to help parents, educators, and professionals work with children who have autism spectrum disorders and other related developmental challenges. With our help, you can learn how to reach your child and enable them to reach their potential. Contact us to learn more about the resources we have to offer.


2 Responses

  1. Angelo was diagnosed with ASD and SPD when he was 4. He’s our world and the sweetest kid (until he isn’t). Thank you, everyone, and Pierre Fontaine for showing the world how we aren’t alone. In my neighborhood, he seems to be the “only one”.

    • Autism Treatment Center of America says:

      You’re welcome! Thank you for sharing this comment with us – you most definitely are not alone. 🙂 If there is anything else we can do for you, please let us know!

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