Programs & Services

How to Recognize the Early Behavioral Signs of Autism


Behavioral Signs of Autism

Autism, behaviors of autism

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are most often diagnosed between the ages of 3 to 4 years and are four times as likely to affect boys.

There are a number of ways to recognize the signs of autism in young children so the right steps can be taken at the right time. Early detection is key.

The Autism Diagnostic Clinic’s, Dr. Robin Blitz, provides comprehensive diagnosis and testing procedures to aid her in accurately recognizing the early signs of autism. She also provides continuing education about the latest in autism research for families, other pediatricians, residents, and medical staff.

Possible indicators, according to the American Psychiatric Association, include:

1. Impairment in communication skills

  • Delays in expressive language, such as NOT:
    • Babbling, pointing, or making meaningful gestures by 1 year of age.
    • Speaking one word by 16 months.
    • Combining two words by 2 years.
  • Not responding to his/her own name
  • No motions of pointing or showing

2. Impairment in social skills

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Disinterest in almost everything around them
  • Lack of social interactions and keeping to themselves
  • Having difficulties learning new skills

3. Repetitive, restrictive, and stereotypical patterns of
behaviors, interests and activities

  • Sticking to a routine day-after-day
  • Emotional and easily throws tantrums
  • Hand fluttering or spinning in circles
  • Pre-occupation with an abnormal interest area (e.g. fascination with collecting paper clips)
  • Abnormal sensory reactions to touch, smell, taste and sounds

Some other possible indicators:

  • Doesn't play with toys appropriately, such as:
    • Excessively lining up toys or other objects
    • Being attached to one particular toy or object exclusively

If your child exhibits any of these indicators listed above, contact your child's pediatrician and explain your concerns. Also, be sure to ask for a screening. Studies have shown parents feel that only 1/3 of pediatricians are interested in listening about developmental and behavioral concerns and don’t think their doctors will do anything about screenings. So be sure to bring any warning signs to their attention.

Even before an autism diagnosis is made, any parent can refer their child into the Arizona Early Interventional Program, or AzEIP (if under age 3) or their local school district (if 3 years or older) to begin early interventional services.

If your child is exhibiting any of these behaviors, request a referral from a pediatrician.

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