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Signs of Autism

Communication: language develops slowly or not at all, especially by 16 months; words may be used without attaching the usual meaning to them; gestures may be used instead of words; may have short attention spans; Immature rhythms of speech, limited understanding of ideas and the use of words without attaching the usual meanings to them; may have a loss of speech at any age

Social interaction: individual may spend time alone rather than with others; may show little interest in making friends; may be less responsive to social cues such as eye contact or smiles; No large smiles or other expressive, joyful facial expressions by six months;  No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by nine months; No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving by 12 months.

Sensory Impairment: May have abnormal responses to sensations. May be over-sensitive or under-responsive to pain, light, sound, smell, touch, or balance, the way a child holds his or her body; any one or a combination of these responses may be affected.

Play: may demonstrate lack of spontaneous or imaginative play; may not imitate others’ actions; may not initiate pretend games; Abnormal ways of relating to people, objects and events; Lack of interest in peer relationships, may prefer to be alone.

Behaviors: may be overactive or very passive; may throw frequent tantrums for no apparent reason; may become over-focused or absorbed with a single item, idea, or person; many demonstrate apparent lack of common sense; may display aggressive behavior or injure self; may have repetitive use of motor movements (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects); Persistent fixation on parts of objects

For more information about the first signs of Autism, please visit To learn more about developmental milestones and your child, click here.

Click here for a diagnostic checklist of Autism.

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