At 18 months
Most toddlers can baby-talk at 18 months old. In case they have a speech delay, they will compensate for it by using facial expressions, hand gestures, and by pointing to objects.
However, those with autism may not make an effort to compensate at all. Additionally, their speech may be limited to repeating what they hear from the TV or people around them (echolalia). In most cases, they also do not understand the word they are echoing.
At 24 months
One of the early signs of autism in toddlers includes not being able to show warmth or joy.
For example, most 2-year-olds can bring an object or toy to show their parents and smile or laugh with them. Children with ASD may bring a bottle of bubbles to their mother to open it, but they won’t smile, laugh, or show pleasure. In most cases, you might notice that they would rather play alone.
Additional early signs of autism
Children who exhibit the following signs may also develop ASD:
- Avoiding eye contact
- Not smiling when you smile at them
- Not talking as much as their peers
- When they talk, they might mix up pronouns. For instance, they may refer to self as “you” and then refer to others as “I.”
- Show stereotypic behaviors such as rocking, swaying, twirling their fingers, hand flapping, and walking on toes for an extended period of time
- Show interest in only one object or activity
- Sensitivity to sound, textures, smell, light, or touch; they might get very upset when these things are not to their liking
- Looks at objects at odd angles
- Self-injurious behavior, such as head-banging to soothe themselves
The next steps
Please note that not all children with ASD will exhibit all these symptoms. So, you don’t need to check for all the signs. Likewise, not all babies who show these signs will develop autism later on– some may have other developmental delays or disorders.