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How to Spot Autism

February 7, 2013


What is autism?

Autism is a developmental disorder, usually appearing before age 3, defined by:

  • problems in communication, such as major delay in spoken language or lack of spontaneous play;
  • problems in social interaction, such as inability to hold eye contact or play with others;
  • obsessively following routines or repeating words or actions.

Could it be autism?

There are many reasons for unusual behavior. But contact your doctor if your young child:

  • doesn’t cuddle or return smiles;
  • doesn’t seem to notice if you are in the room;
  • seems to be in his or her own world or tunes others out;
  • gets attached to hard objects or parts of objects;
  • can’t ask for things he or she wants;
  • doesn’t seem to feel fear or pain;
  • persistently repeats certain movements or phrases;
  • lacks interest in other children.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development also recommends a doctor evaluate a child for autism if he or she:

  • does not babble or coo by 12 months;
  • does not gesture (point, wave) by 12 months;
  • does not say words by 16 months;
  • does not say two-word phrases by 24 months;
  • has a loss of language or social skill at any age.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics, Autism Society