Early Indicators

There are many resources that provide information about autism, and most agree that early diagnosis and appropriate interventions, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) are crucial to helping young children succeed in later years.  Although intensive services for young children may require costly resources, the benefits will last a lifetime and reduce costs throughout an individual’s lifetime.

Early indicators that require evaluation by an expert include:

  • No babbling or pointing by age 1
  • No single words by age 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
  • No response to name
  • Loss of language or social skills previously acquired
  • Poor eye contact
  • No smiling or social responsiveness
  • Excessive lining up of toys or objects

Later indicators that require evaluation by an expert include:

  • Impaired ability to make friends with peers
  • Impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
  • Absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
  • Repetitive or unusual use of language
  • Abnormally intense or focused interest
  • Preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
  • Inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals

View a video about autism and young children presented by Howard Center staff Julie Smith.