Did you know that males are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls?
What’s interesting about this disorder is that it is detectable at a very young age. In other words, the symptoms appear very early—often during the first two years of life.
By age four, most with apparent symptoms would have received a diagnosis.
Perhaps you’re a new mother? Wanting to know what the signs of autism in infants are?
If so, you’re at the right place. We’ve compiled a list of signs that are often seen in babies and young children. Keep reading to find out what they are!
10 Signs of Autism in Infants That You Should Know About
Autism presents itself in a number of ways. Here are some of the signs that are commonly seen in infants and young children.
1. Lack of Eye Contact
All babies have an innate interest in their parents’ face—especially the eyes. For those with autism, however, this interest tends to go away after two months.
Instead of gazing into your eyes, they might be more interested in staring at objects.
According to the National Institutes of Health, infants with autism look at their caregivers’ eyes about half as long as those without autism.
2. Lack of Smiling
Typically, a baby will smile reflexively at you if you smile at them.
These reflex smiles, as they’re called, can be seen as early as the first month. However, it’s not uncommon for some babies’ smiles to take a little longer.
If by 3 months your child still has not smiled, however, you might want to discuss it with their doctor as it may be a sign of autism.
3. Fixation on Inanimate Objects
Children with autism tend to pay close attention to inanimate objects—without understanding their actual purpose.
For instance, they might stare at light switches, tools, or fans. In fact, they might be more interested in parts of an object than the object itself.
Take toys, for example—many will fixate on the parts of a toy rather than the toy itself.
Most will also fascinate themselves with lights or spinning objects.
4. Lack of Verbal Noises
Typical babies start to babble by 4 to 6 months. Those who are at risk of autism, however, tend to do so much later.
Generally speaking, delays in babbling are rare. For this reason, it is often considered an early marker of the disorder.
According to the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, they also do less of it once they get started. In some cases, they may stop verbalizing altogether after a point.
5. They Don’t Respond to Their Names
Most infants will start to respond to their names by the time they’re 7 months old. Having said that, some may take longer.
By the time they’re at their 9-month checkup, however, it’s expected that they’ll turn their heads when someone calls their name.
Studies have shown that those who do not respond to their names by age 1 are more likely to develop autism.
6. They Engage in Repetitive Movements
Repetitive movements are often seen in those with autism disorders. Some examples include hand waving, flapping of the arms, or clenching of the fists.
More often than not, these episodes will occur at least once daily.
As the child grows older, there’s also a chance of self-injurious behaviors such as self-hitting or head banging.
7. Doesn’t Respond to Pointing
Babies might not be able to understand what you’re saying, but they’ll instinctively follow your finger if you’re pointing at something.
Those with autism, however, will not be engaged with your point—this is often due to a lack of eye contact. In other words, they’re not looking at where you’re pointing.
It’s not uncommon for these children to have difficulties with other types of non-verbal communication as well.
8. They Are Sensitive to Certain Stimuli
Autistic babies may experience sensory sensitivity. In other words, they might be under or oversensitive to sensory perceptions; this includes smell, taste, touch, hearing, and sight.
In fact, it might be one of the reasons why they prefer not to receive cuddles from their parents. They’re oversensitive to touch and may find it distressing.
Under-sensitivity to certain stimuli can also cause problems. For instance, an autistic infant might stare directly into a light, which can hurt the eyes.
9. They Tend to Repeat Words
Children with autism may echo words or phrases that they hear—without understanding their meaning.
This condition, echolalia, is also referred to as echoing or parroting. Up to 75% of those on the autistic spectrum will display some form of echolalia.
Often times, they will repeat words that are spoken to them. In some cases, however, they will also repeat words or phrases that they hear from other sources such as the TV or radio.
10. They Prefer to be Alone
Autistic children are comfortable in their own bubbles. They have a desire to be alone—even when they’re playing.
Not seeking warmth, physical contact, and cuddles is often an indicative sign of autism in babies.
They prefer to live in their own worlds and are generally aloof and detached from those around them.
Recognizing the Early Signs of Autism Can Help Your Child
The earlier the diagnosis, the more effective the treatments. You can learn more about some of the different options on this website.
Want to be able to help your child? If so, you should definitely familiarize yourself with the signs of autism in infants.
You may also be interested in these 6 Effective Home Remedies for Autism.
Do you have first-hand experience with autism? Feel free to share your story with us in the comments below!