Early Signs of Autism

By Step by Step Consulting

Generally, early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder can be observed before the age of 2. Some children will have many of these early signs while others will only exhibit a few. The number of signs a child has will vary across each individual, their age and severity. It is extremely important to note that some children with autism begin to develop communication skills and then regress, this typically happens between 12 and 24 months. For example, a child who was communicating with words such as “mama” “dada” or “more” may stop using language entirely, or a child may stop playing social games he or she used to enjoy such as peek-a-boo, or waving “bye-bye.” As regression is a major red flag for autism any loss of speech, babbling, gestures, or social skills should be taken seriously.

Here is a list of some of the early signs of Autism:

Social Communication

The child does not:

  • Make eye contact
  • Respond to their name being called, or to the sound of a familiar voice
  • Follow your gesture when you point things out or track objects
  • Point or wave goodbye
  • Make noises to get your attention
  • Initiate or respond to social interactions (reaching to be picked up, hugging)
  • Copy your movements and facial expressions
  • Play with other people or share interest and enjoyment


The child:

  • Has an intense interest in certain objects and gets ‘stuck’ on particular toys or objects
  • Interacts with toys and objects in only one way or does not use them for their functional purpose.
  • Becomes distressed with changes in their routine
  • Repeats body movements, for example, hand-flapping, and also may repeat words or sounds out of context.
  • May be sensitive to certain sounds, smells, textures.

In some instances, noticing the early signs of autism in children can be tricky. It definitely helps to understand developmental milestones, it is important to act if you think your child is not meeting these milestones. Avoid “waiting and seeing”, the earlier you act, the better for your child. Decades of research has indicated that early intensive behavioural intervention produces best outcomes for children.

If you suspect that your child has autism, please read the following blog post on what you should do next.