The first year of a child’s life is usually a non-stop celebration of “firsts” – first smile, first crawl, first steps, first words, and even first whole night’s sleep. There are so-called milestones of development but some children weren’t able to reach those.
While it is true that every child is unique, they should be able to meet these milestones, so when should parents start to wonder if something is wrong?
Autism is one of the most common disorders today, and while a biomarker was finally found last year to help with early diagnosis, it’s commonly only 80% effective. So far those that were at higher risk are infants. Most doctors rely on parent remarks, observing the child themselves, and using standardized means like the Checklist for Autism in Toddlers.
However, it’s made only for children who are 18 months and older. Early detection and mediation can help with many of the frustrations that occur from communication problems.
Because of the research, a system was developed to help doctors with early assessment in infants as young as 6 months. The Autism Observation Scale for Infants or also known as AOSI has been a fantastic new tool to help parents and doctors get an initial analysis.
Signs that your baby may have autism
These signs would show up between the 6 months to 1-year range. Before that, many of these may not be visible at all. It is also important to know that any one of these characteristics on its own is not a diagnosis. If your child is showing a number of these qualities over the 6 months, it is always good to see a doctor for an assessment. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a difference in skills-building later on. Again this list should not be deemed a diagnosis, only used as a tool to start a discussion with your doctor who can then start a proper evaluation process.
No social smiling
Typically a baby will smile back if you smile at them and this happens as early as the first month, but absolutely should bee seen by the age of 3 months. There is a test you can try looking at your baby with a vague face and then break into a wide smile that you hold for a few moments. You can try three or four times, typically a growing infant should smile back most if not every time.
Lack of eye contact
Most babies are born with innate attention in the human face, individually their parents and family.
Not responding to their name
Most babies will be reacting to their name when you say it by 9 months at the latest.
No social anticipation or Peek-A-Boo
Neurologically typical babies will lift their arms in anticipation of being picked up, or start smiling in expectation of games like Peek-a-boo. If your baby seems not to be picking up on these common forms of play by 6-9 months, it is worth seeing into.
Poor visual tracking
Take a brightly colored toy and track it back and forth slowly in front of your baby. Does your child easily follow a brightly colored toy with their eyes? Or do they seem to lose interest in it or undo it quickly?
Lack of social babbling
Typically babies love to practice babbling on the road as a form of communication. Babies with autism however may be lacking verbal noises, be slow to talk, or suddenly stop verbalizing after some time.
Fixation on unusual objects
Older babies who are later diagnosed with ASD exhibit fixations on unusual objects like fans, parts of toys, floor or ceiling designs.
If you notice some of this and observed that’s not improving over time, please make an appointment to see your doctor or pediatrician as they can offer the most reliable medical advice.