Signs of an Autism Spectrum Disorder

July 26, 2012 8:57 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Today, 1 in 88 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. For medical professionals that work with children between 12 and 36 months, it is imperative that they know the signs and symptoms of this ever-growing disorder. Many families that have a child diagnosed with autism have been told by previous doctors and specialists that their child is just a late talker, he/she is shy, or they will “grow out of it”. This statement can satisfy a parent for a period of time which may prevent the child from receiving the early intervention services that are so critical for children with autism. Therefore, I have created a list of signs to look for to determine if a child is in need of a formal developmental evaluation:


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  • Failure to point or gesture to get his/her needs or wants met
  • Failure to make eye contact with others
  • Failure to respond to their name by looking
  • Failure to visually track objects or people
  • Failure to play with toys as they are designed
  • Spends a large amount of time on 1 specific activity such as watching a TV show or movie
  • Does not seek comfort such as being held or hugged
  • Engages in repetitive behaviors such as flapping arms/hands, walking on toes, or skipping
  • Failure to imitate your gross motor actions or facial expressions
  • Failure to respond to the pointing behavior of others (i.e. does not look in the direction of someone pointing)
  • Failure to engage in babbling behavior by 12 months or spoken words by 16 months
  • Failure to engage parents or caregivers in play activities
  • Engages in high frequency tantrum behavior
  • A sudden loss of skills such as language, play skills or social skills

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Although this is not an exhaustive list of the signs and symptoms of autism, if a child you know displays several of these characteristics, it would be appropriate to provide a referral to a developmental pediatrician, developmental psychologist or a neurologist. The earlier the child receives a diagnosis and begins intensive treatment, the better the prognosis. For more information about autism, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.

Kelley Prince M.A., BCBA

President of Behavioral Consulting of Tampa Bay

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