The first steps – How we got Autism diagnosis

November 9, 2017

The following information is not meant to diagnose or treat and should not take the place of personal consultation, as appropriate, with a qualified healthcare professional and/or behavioral therapist.

I get a lot of emails from parents asking about Autism so I wanted to start a series of posts that can answer these questions.

The timing and severity of autism’s first symptoms can vary widely. Some children with autism show hints of future problems within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms may not become obvious until 24 months or later. Some children with autism appear to develop normally until around 18 to 24 months of age and then stop gaining new skills and/or start losing skills.
The following “red flags” suggest a child is at risk for autism. Some children without autism have some of these symptoms, and not all children with autism show all of them. That’s why further evaluation is crucial.

(My sons had diagnosis’ at 9years and 2 1/2 years – early intervention makes all the difference).

Possible signs of autism in babies and toddlers:

  • By 6 months, no social smiles or other warm, joyful expressions directed at people
  • By 6 months, limited or no eye contact
  • By 9 months, no sharing of vocal sounds, smiles or other nonverbal communication
  • By 12 months, no babbling
  • By 12 months, no use of gestures to communicate (e.g. pointing, reaching, waving etc.)
  • By 12 months, no response to name when called
  • By 16 months, no words
  • By 24 months, no meaningful, two-word phrases
  • Any loss of any previously acquired speech, babbling or social skills

Possible signs of autism at any age:

  • Avoids eye contact and prefers to be alone
  • Struggles with understanding other people’s feelings
  • Remains nonverbal or has delayed language development
  • Repeats words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
  • Gets upset by minor changes in routine or surroundings
  • Has highly restricted interests
  • Performs repetitive behaviors such as flapping, rocking or spinning
  • Has unusual and often intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colors

Talk with your healthcare provider

Depending on the screening results, your doctor may refer your child to a specialist for a full diagnostic evaluation for autism. However, doctors are not created equal if you are not satisfied ask for a second opinion.  You are your child best chance advocate for them.

What next?

If your child has certain autistic traits, he or she will be referred to a specialist team.   They will send your child for hearing and eye tests prior to seeing the team to rule out any medical issues.

You can read my more personal stories about our experiences with autism here.



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