Early Signs of Autism in Babies and Toddlers

In Nigeria, we have just recently begun to understand autism and how to deal with it. It makes it necessary then, to look out for those early signs in our babies and toddlers.

Autism is a spectrum disorder of closely related disorders with a shared core of symptoms. Children with Autism are born and grow apparently normal, except maybe delayed speech. But, by 3 years, something triggers regression.

Tell Tale Signs

The child:

  • doesn’t make eye contact
  • never smiles when smiled at
  • does not respond to his or her name or to the sound of a familiar voice
  • will never follow objects visually
  • won’t point or wave goodbye or use other gestures to communicate
  • doesn’t follow the gesture when you point things out
  • never makes noises to get your attention
  • doesn’t initiate or respond to cuddling
  • does not try to imitate your movements and facial expressions
  • will never reach out to be picked up
  • can’t be found playing with other people or sharing interest and enjoyment
  • doesn’t ask for help or make other basic requests.

However, every child suffering from autism has problems, at least to some degree, in the following three areas: communicating verbally and non-verbally, relating to others and the world around them, and thinking and behaving flexibly.

Hence there are delays in many basic areas of development, such as learning to talk, play, and interaction with others. The signs and symptoms of autism vary widely, and so do its effects.

It is the paramount responsibility of the parents to take care and notice the early signs and symptoms of autism in children. Due to the closeness of parents to their children, they are in the best position to spot and understand the earliest warning signs of autism.

Some simple tips can ensure that proper tracking is done of your child when it comes to autism.

(1) Monitoring of the child’s development: autism involves a variety of developmental delays, so keeping a close eye on when your child in reaching the key social, emotional, and cognitive milestones is an effective way to spot the problem early on.

(2) Taking appropriate action for every concern: every child develops at a different pace, so it is okay if your child is a little late to talk or walk. But if your child is not meeting the milestones for his or her age, or you suspect a problem, share your concerns with your child’s doctor immediately. Don’t wait till it becomes too late as you risk losing valuable time at an age where your child has the best chance for improvement.

(3) Trust your instincts: it is a given that your child’s doctor will take your concerns seriously and perform a thorough evaluation for autism or other developmental delays.