Autism is a complex developmental disability that causes your child’s brain to work differently from other children, leading to potential challenges with communication, social skills, and motor skills. Getting the right help for your child with autism as early as possible helps them cope with their needs at home and school.
According to board-certified pediatrician Rainilda Valencia, MD, of Valencia Pediatrics in Victorville, California, you can spot the signs of autism in your child from a young age, which helps them get a diagnosis and begin early treatment. Find out more about the signs of autism and the age children start to show them.
What are the signs of autism?
There are a number of symptoms your child might display if they have autism. They can experience some or all of these indicators:
- Difficulty speaking, responding to, or understanding communication
- Limited to no eye contact
- Challenges with gross and/or fine motor movements
- Little interest in social reciprocity, or challenges with making and keeping friendships
- Restricted or stereotyped interests
- Trouble adapting to unexpected change
- Unusual sensory sensitivities
Some children with autism also display anxiety and unusual responses to fear. This means they can be significantly more or less fearful in certain situations than other children.
When do children develop symptoms of autism?
In many children, the signs of autism start to appear at a very young age. Often, you can begin to see the first indicators that your child might have autism at less than a year old.
Autism symptoms can appear slightly different at different ages, but at the youngest ages, you can start to see signs with certain missed or unusual developmental markers. From their earliest months, you might notice a child with autism either doesn’t make eye contact or has trouble maintaining eye contact.
Before one year of age, your child with autism might not respond to their name, display facial expressions, or use gestures like waving to communicate. They might also not use age-appropriate facial expressions to convey feelings like happiness, sadness, and surprise, or engage in simple games.
At 15 months old, many children with autism don’t interact with caregivers by pointing at things they enjoy. By 18 months, your child might not follow your eyes when you look or point at something.
As your child turns two years old, they might not begin to notice how other people are feeling emotionally. As three-year-olds, they may have little to no interest in playing with other children.
By the time a child with autism reaches school age, at four to five years old, they might not engage in pretend play, singing, or dancing.
If you notice any of these signs of autism in your child, you can schedule an autism assessment at Valencia Pediatrics when your child is as young as nine months old. Dr. Valencia, Micaela Marin-Tucker, PA-C, and Megan Reynolds, C-PNP, also begin to screen your child for autism at their first developmental screening at nine months.
As soon as your child receives an autism diagnosis, our team creates a treatment plan and refers them to supports that can help them manage in the world. The younger your child receives their diagnosis, the sooner they, and you, can get support.
If you think your child might have autism, no matter how young they are, contact us today by calling 442-204-0019 to schedule an assessment.