Autism Signs Appear in Babies’ First Year: What that means for Parents and Doctors

A Chicago Tribune Article states:

“In its detailed comparison of 50 babies – half of whom would go on to be diagnosed with autism – the researchers in this new study found a steady loss of sociability and responsiveness in the babies who would progress to an autism diagnosis. Those babies’ loss of social skills looked more like regression and less like a slowing of progress that allowed normally developing babies to pull far ahead of them. And that regression was most marked between 6 and 18 months, though it continued more gradually to the 3-year mark, where the study left off. But while the reduced rates of face-gazing, vocalizations and social engagement were evident to researchers who systematically evaluated the babies every six months, 83 percent of the parents did not observe the changes chronicled by researchers – not, at least, in the first year they were happening”.

Autism Checklist

We need to teach parents to look for Sociability and Responsiveness between 6 and 18 months. Pediatricians, you can teach parents to look for these things when the baby is seen at the 6-week check-up!

Here are a few things to start looking out for (feel free to contact us for a more detailed checklist!):

Face gazing

Does he respond to your voice?
Does he smile?
Does she make eye contact?

Vocalizations
Does he coo?
Does he make noises?
Does he cry and keep calm at appropriate times?

Social engagement
Does he smile?
Does she enjoy playing games like peek-a-boo?
Does he want mommy at around 9 months and cry with others?
Does he show interest in other children?
Does she use her index finger to point at people or objects?

A few questions can make the difference between early intervention and a quick jump on learning, versus a wider gap in skills as more time passes without proper awareness and attention. You and your pediatrician need to be watching for signs! Don’t forget- family history is a HUGE piece with autism spectrum disorders. If you have any form of social challenges in the family, start looking for signs very early!

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If you are a parent, what advice would you like your pediatrician to give you at your 6 week check up?

If you are a parent of an ASD child, how would an earlier diagnosis have changed where you are today?

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