Parents should ask their child’s family doctor for referral to a developmental pediatrician for assessment if there are concerns with any of the following:
Communication red flags • No babbling by 11 months of age • No simple gestures by 12 months (e.g., waving bye-bye) • No single words by 16 months • No two-word phrases by 24 months (noun + verb—e.g., “baby sleeping”) • No response when name is called, causing concern about hearing • Loss of any language or social skills at any age
Behavioural red flags • Odd or repetitive ways of moving fingers or hands • Oversensitive to certain textures, sounds or lights • Lack of interest in toys, or plays with them in an unusual way (e.g., lining up, spinning, opening/closing parts rather than using the toy as a whole) • Compulsions or rituals (has to perform activities in a special way or certain sequence; is prone to tantrums if rituals are interrupted) • Preoccupations with unusual interests, such as light switches, doors, fans or wheels • Unusual fears
Social red flags • Rarely makes eye contact when interacting with people • Does not play peek-a-boo • Doesn’t point to show things he/she is interested in • Rarely smiles socially • More interested in looking at objects than at people’s faces • Prefers to play alone • Doesn’t make attempts to get parent’s attention; doesn't follow/look when someone is pointing at something • Seems to be “in his/her own world” • Doesn’t respond to parent’s attempts to play, even if relaxed • Avoids or ignores other children when they approach
Autism is treatable and early intervention is critical. Know the warning signs of autism in young children. Act early.
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