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7 Early Signs of Autism

Learn about seven early signs of autism from pediatrician and child development expert Asma J. Sadiq, M.D. in this Howcast video.


There many early signs of autism and parents actually sometimes have a gut on it, but things that we know about are eye contact, you know, not monitoring the back and forth that a child would otherwise do and that is picked up very early. Babbling behavior and cooing sounds which are very early can also be repetitive.

I've had children sometimes having difficulty with motor imitation and that's one of the things that is talked about in the Literature. I've had children being repetitive even with the play. A child has been fascinated with the rattling and repetitively play with that.

You can have a child with sensory sensitivity, wanting to be held too much and not wanting to be held. Having a preference for constantly wanting to be rocked, for example. These are little concerns and parents can pick up on or have a gut on these things sometimes and they minimize it. So I think it's important to look at language, communication, and it could be verbal, non-verbal with social referencing, following, laughing.

The verbal value is very important, and this gaze-monitoring which you see a little child do. They monitor their mother's eyes. There's a back and forth. There's the alertness and interest in the other that seems to be missing or not adequately develop.

Not responding to their name when they're called, most kids should do that by eight to nine months of age. And when you find that happening, it is of concern. That is one of the earliest signs that need to be addressed and mention to your pediatrician.

One of the early signs that is commonly seen and is of concern is this lack of joint attention, which means we're both looking at something together. When you point toward something, a child will point to at something and look at you for you to understand. So there's that communication piece that seems to be missing. Children are often just reaching out for what they want.

And that's the way they communicate or they don't point with their index finger. There sometimes just lots of crying and no verbal communication.

So these are concerns that you have a social referencing or that lack of connection is something that parents pick up on and I think is definitely one of the earliest signs that needs to be concerned about.

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