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Symptoms and red flags to watch out for from 12 months to 3 years

Updated: Apr 8, 2020

Autism Spectrum Disorder can be diagnosed before the age of 3. Some children with ASD show signs within the first few months of being born. While others, symptoms may not show up until 2 years (24 months) or later. In some cases, children with an ASD seem to develop typically until around 18 to 24 months of age and then they stop acquiring new skills, or they lose the skills that they once used to possess. Studies have shown that one third to half of parents of children with an ASD noticed a problem before their child’s first birthday (12 months), and nearly 80%–90% saw problems by 2 years of age (24 months).

Not all children with autism show all the symptoms and signs. Many children who don’t have autism may also show a few. That’s why seeking a professional evaluation is crucial.

The following may indicate your child is at risk for an autism spectrum disorder. If your child exhibits any of the following, ask your paediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation right away:

By 12 months of age

  • Few or no big smiles or other warm, joyful and engaging expressions

  • Limited or no eye contact

  • Little or no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions

  • Little or no babbling

  • Little or no back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching, waving

  • Little or no response to name

By 16 months of age

  • Very few or no words

By 24 months of age

  • Very few or no meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating)

At any age

  • Loss of previously acquired speech, babbling or social skills

  • Avoidance of eye contact

  • Persistent preference for solitude

  • Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings

  • Delayed language development

  • Persistent repetition of words or phrases (echolalia)

  • Resistance to minor changes in routine or surroundings

  • Restricted interests

  • Repetitive behaviours (flapping, rocking, spinning, etc.)

  • Unusual and intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colours




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