If you’ve ever met a child living with autism spectrum disorder, you’ve probably noticed their difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction. According to Autism Speaks, 1 in 68 children is now diagnosed with the developmental disorder. We know more about autism spectrum disorder and how it’s presented in children today due to increased awareness, education, and early screening. Research points to genetics as the cause, and not environmental factors, such as vaccines.

It is important to diagnose autism spectrum disorder as soon as possible because treatment is more effective when started at a young age. Unfortunately, there is no blood test or imaging study that will diagnose autism. Identifying behaviors associated with autism, along with observations made by specialists, can confirm the diagnosis. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends having all parents and caregivers fill out a Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers when their children are 18 and 24 months old for appropriate screening.

April is Autism Awareness Month, and a good reminder to be familiar with the 16 common behaviors identified with children affected by the disorder:

  1. Not looking where the parent or caregiver points
  2. Acting as if they cannot hear
  3. Having no pretend play
  4. Making unusual finger movements near a his or her own eyes
  5. Not pointing to objects as a way to ask for something
  6. Not showing interested in other children
  7. Not showing things to the parent or caregiver as a sign of pleasure
  8. Not responding to their name
  9. Not smiling back at the parent or caregiver
  10. Getting upset at everyday noises
  11. Isn’t walking well by age 18 months
  12. Rarely making eye contact
  13. Not mimicking the parent or caregiver
  14. Not looking where a parent or caregiver turns to look at something
  15. Not interested in getting the parent or caregiver to watch them do something
  16. Not understanding what the parent or caregiver is saying

For more information on autism spectrum disorder or other information about your child, visit Book your child’s appointment by calling NHA Pediatrics at 419.241.4230 or Daisy Smith Pediatrics at 419.255.7883.