Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute
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Recognizing the Early Signs of Autism

Early intervention for children with autism can improve learning, social skills and behavioral outcomes. Pediatrics specialists can often determine if a child is at risk for autism spectrum disorders by age 1, but parents play an important role in deciding if a child should be screened by recognizing the potential symptoms of autism. April is Autism Awareness Month, which is an opportunity to learn more about autism spectrum disorders and the symptoms parents can look out for in their own children. Here is a look at some of the early indicators of autism and what steps you can take if you recognize them in your own child.

Early autism symptoms

Although the following symptoms don’t necessarily mean that your child has an autism spectrum disorder, they should be discussed with your pediatrics specialist. Consider consulting with a physician if you notice the following behaviors:

  • Your child doesn’t smile or have warm expressions by age 6 months or later
  • Your child mirror sounds or facial expressions by 9 months
  • Your child doesn’t babble by 12 months
  • Your child doesn’t engage in back-and-forth gestures, like waving, by 12 months
  • Your child doesn’t use any words by 16 months
  • Your child doesn’t use two-word phrases accurately by 24 months
  • Your child has a loss of speech or social skills at any age

Autism screening tests

If your pediatrician thinks that it is appropriate to screen your child for autism, he or she may use the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT). The M-CHAT consists of 23 questions about a child’s behaviors that are answered by parents. Based on the results of the M-CHAT screening, the pediatrician may recommend further testing, including genetic, neurological and developmental tests. No one test definitively diagnoses autism. Rather, your pediatrician will consider all tests results, as well as your family medical history, before making an autism diagnosis.

The Women’s and Children Center at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center is committed to helping families achieve the best health possible with a range of preventative, acute and chronic care programs. For a referral to a compassionate pediatrics provider in Treasure Coast or more information about children’s services, please call (800) 382-3522.

Categories: Children, Autism

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