National Autism Center Encourages Awareness of Early Warning Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder


Randolph, Mass. – After welcoming a new baby into the family and navigating those first challenging months, most parents come to appreciate that each child will develop, learn, and grow in their own unique way. Some children learn to walk and talk at a very young age; others are older when they achieve these milestones. While parents are encouraged to embrace their child’s individuality, they should not ignore early warning signs that might indicate their child could have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  Research shows early diagnosis and intervention during the first years of a child’s life can significantly impact their long-term prognosis, particularly in the areas of language and social behavior.

ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that typically appears during the early years of life. It is characterized by deficits in social interactions and social communication and by restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 44 U.S. children now has an ASD. This number has been rising steadily over the past two decades, making it more important than ever for parents and practitioners to learn about the early signs and symptoms of ASD, which include:

  • No smiling at people by six months
  • No babbling, pointing, or meaningful gestures by 12 months
  • No one-word communications by 16 months
  • No two-word phrases by 24 months
  • Poor eye contact
  • Using or focusing in on parts of toys or objects
  • Not showing items or shared interests
  • Not responding to sounds, voices, or name
  • Loss of skills at any time

There are no medical tests for detecting ASD, but when parents become concerned about developmental delays in children, they should consult a physician. He or she can rule out various potential medical causes, such as hearing problems. Before a child can be diagnosed, that child should also be evaluated by an autism specialist. Such a person may be a psychologist, psychiatrist, pediatric neurologist, or developmental pediatrician who specializes in diagnosing and treating children with ASD.

Being aware of the early warning signs of ASD and reaching out for help are important first steps parents can take to ensure their child gets off to a good start and ultimately achieves their full potential.

For more information about signs and symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of ASD, visit:

About the National Autism Center at May Institute
The National Autism Center is May Institute’s Center for the Promotion of Evidence-based Practice. It is a dedicated to serving children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) by providing reliable information, promoting best practices, and offering comprehensive resources for families, practitioners, and communities. For more information about the National Autism Center at May Institute, please visit 

About May Institute
May Institute is a nonprofit organization that is a national leader in the field of applied behavior analysis, serving individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities, brain injury and neurobehavioral disorders, and other special needs. Founded more than 65 years ago, we provide a wide range of exceptional educational and rehabilitative services across the lifespan. For more information, call 800.778.7601 or visit

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