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Signs of Autism in Babies

Autism spectrum disorder can’t be diagnosed through a biological test. Instead, it must be done based off certain characteristics that an individual displays in their behaviors.

Because of this, many people fail to fully recognize some of the signs of autism in babies until they’re a little older. In fact, most children aren’t diagnosed with autism1 until they’re 3 years old or even older.

At the same time, children who have autism will show signs much earlier than that, with some of the signs and symptoms becoming more obvious between 12 and 18 months old.

Many health-care providers and trained professionals can spot some of the signs of autism in babies from even younger ages. Parents should know what to look out for in terms of the common signs of autism in babies, as the earlier it can be diagnosed, the earlier interventions can be started.

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Why Can Autism Be Hard to Spot in Babies?

A major reason why parents have trouble identifying the signs of autism in babies is that they aren’t trained to know what things their child should and shouldn’t be doing at certain ages. Because babies obviously communicate without spoken language, many parents just believe their children are learning.

If a child grows older and still has trouble talking, parents may think this is a sign of autism. While lack of, or trouble with, communication is one of the symptoms of autism, it’s not the only one — and it doesn’t automatically mean the child has autism.

Because a lot of parents don’t know what their child should be able to do at points in time, it can be hard for them to say definitively whether their child is behind or not.

Developmental Milestone Charts

Luckily, health-care professionals and organizations have created developmental milestone charts to help parents, caregivers and other health-care providers determine whether a child is developing appropriately for their age.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for instance, has a great website dedicated to developmental milestones2, including printable checklists and a month-by-month breakdown of what milestones babies and children should be reaching.

When you take your child to their doctor’s well visits, the pediatrician they see should be asking you about their development and matching that up with some of these charts. This can be one great way that parents and professionals can see how well a child is developing.

Missing one or a few of these milestones doesn’t necessarily mean that your child has autism, but it could be something to keep an eye on as they get older.

How Early Can Signs of Autism in Babies Appear?

Some signs of autism in babies can actually appear in the newborn stage. Again, the younger a child is, the more difficult it may be for you to identify these signs.

But, some of these possible signs in newborns could include having sensitivity to some loud noises, not having a lot of facial expression, not recognizing faces and not being able to follow a moving object.

When babies get a little older, between 4 and 7 months of age, they should be developing more. Some of the signs of autism in infants this age include not being interested in sounds and turning toward them, showing what seems like a lack of affection, not babbling much, not squealing or laughing much, showing little interest in trying to grab objects or having trouble grasping them, and not showing a lot of facial expressions.

As babies approach a year old, they should be doing even more and interacting even more with those around them.

Some signs of autism between the ages of 8 months and 12 months are if the baby isn’t crawling, avoids eye contact, has very limited speech, doesn’t wave or shake their head, doesn’t point to pictures or objects, and shows a lack of balance even when you hold them up to stand.

What Happens if You Observe One of These Signs of Autism in Babies?

It’s important to note that simply observing one or more of these signs of autism in babies does not necessarily mean that your child has autism. It’s possible that they could just be a little behind in their typical development and will take a “leap” in the near future.

At the same time, if you are concerned about whether your child might have autism, the best thing to do is to have a full early autism evaluation completed by a trained professional such as those at Blue Gems ABA.

We follow an in-depth three-step process to evaluate children for autism, bringing in trained professionals such as clinical psychologists to observe your child, interact with them and see how they are developing.

If an ASD diagnosis is appropriate, we will then suggest intervention options, including the very effective applied behavior analysis, or ABA therapy, which we specialize in.

Address Signs of Autism in Babies with Blue Gems ABA

At Blue Gems ABA, we believe wholeheartedly in assessing children for autism from an early age. After all, the earlier ASD can be diagnosed, the earlier treatment can begin.

Research has shown that early intervention is critical in helping children with autism develop the social and communication skills they need in life.

For more information, please contact Blue Gems ABA today.


  1. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/autism/conditioninfo/symptoms-appear
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/milestones/index.html