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Early Signs

Early Signs and Symptoms of Autism

12-14 months

  • Single words not emerging (by 16 months)
  • Lack of reciprocity
  • Lack of problem solving
  • Not responding to Name

18 months

  • Lack of motor gestures
  • Not beginning to pretend
  • Language not emerging for social interaction
  • No subtle looking

24 months

  •   Lack of imaginative play
  •   No meaningful two word phrases

36 months

  •   Inability to verbalize Emotions
  •   Difficulty interacting with peers
  •   Difficulty with taking turns and sharing
  •   Little to no pretend play
  •   Little to no communication

Earliest Indicators

Abnormalities in initiating communication with others:

Rather than asking for help with something, the child may struggle alone without looking around for assistance.

Impaired ability to initiate and respond to opportunities to share experiences with others:

Children with autism may not follow their parents gaze or initiate contact with others.

Irregularities when playing with toys:

Instead of using a toy as it is meant to be used, like picking up a toy fork and pretending to eat with it, the child may do something unusual with the toy.

Significantly reduced variety of sounds, words, and gestures used to communicate:

Compared with typically developing children, children with autism have a much smaller inventory of sounds, words, and gestures that they use to communicate with others.