Why You Should Not Wait: The Importance of Early Identification of Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Parent and child learning at a desk demonstrating the importance of detecting the early signs of Autism
Autism, Education, Parenting

Concerns about your child’s development can be challenging and confusing! While a pediatrician will monitor your child’s development through regular well-checks, you as a parent are in a great position to observe and monitor your child’s growth every day. By learning what typical development looks like in young children, you can quickly recognize signs that your child might be experiencing delays. Typical developmental milestones include: 

  • Crawling (5-11 months)
  • Walking (9-17 months)
  • Use of single words (12-18 months)
  • Use of 2-to-3-word phrases (19-24 months)
  • Pointing to direct others’ attention (10-11 months)
  • Responding to his/her name when called (by 12 months)
  • Imitation of others’ actions (13-18 months)
  • Gestures such as nodding head, waving hi/bye, or clapping (7-12 months)
  • Playing with a variety of toys and emergence of make-believe play (19-24 months)

The key to improved outcomes for children with delays is early identification and treatment. That is why it is critical to monitor for delays as your child develops. Taking a “Wait and see” approach could result in loss of valuable teaching opportunities during a time when the brain has amazing growth and development potential! Delays in development (i.e., motor, language, social-behavioral) as well as specific concerns for Autism Spectrum Disorder can be identified as early as 12-24 months in some cases. Some signs and symptoms of ASD include:

  • Lack of language development
    Mother helping her son doing homework and demonstrating the importance of early detecting of autism
    Autism Spectrum Disorder can be identified as early as 12-24 months in some cases.
  • Use of language but appears to repeat his/her own phrases or the phrases of others
  • Poor imitation or creative play
  • Poor or absent eye contact
  • Using other’s hands to guide others or placing others’ hands on objects
  • Repetitive motor movements (e.g., odd finger/wrist postures, arm flapping, or body rocking)
  • Unusual fixations on objects or activities
  • Emotional outbursts that are difficult to soothe
  • Extreme reactions to sensations (e.g., sounds, smells, touch)
  • Little interest in playing or interacting with others

If you suspect that your child is not meeting milestones or if your child has signs of ASD, seeking an evaluation as soon as possible can help you access appropriate diagnoses and treatments. Discuss your concerns with your pediatrician and/or seek an evaluation with a child psychologist to help ease your mind and get your child on the right track for progress! 

The following are several resources for families, friends, and community members seeking more information about ASD at any stage of the process: