What are the Signs of Autism in Babies at 1 Month Old?

Here's when and what to look for with signs of autism in babies.

There are no clear signs of autism in babies at 1 month old, because newborns are too young to show any signs of autism. However, while there are no clear signs of autism in babies at 1 month old, there are certain signs and symptoms a doctor may monitor to help determine if your child may be at risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that diagnosing autism can be challenging, because there's not one test, like a blood or imaging test, that can detect the disorder. Instead, doctors use a series of symptoms and tests to determine if signs of an autism spectrum disorder are present.

Here's what and when to watch for autism in babies and toddlers.

Signs of Autism in Babies at 1 Month Old

At 1 month old, babies are too young to be screened for autism. Babies at this age are still considered newborns and their development is still too immature for any sign or symptom of autism to be present or detected.

Additionally, some babies may also be born prematurely, which can delay developmental milestones even more. You should always talk to your child's pediatrician about any concerns you have, of course, but there are no real signs of autism in babies at 1 month old.

Signs of Autism in Babies Under 12 Months Old

By the time your baby reaches 12 months old and is entering toddlerhood, there may be some developmental milestones the CDC expects most children that age to meet or start to meet. However, even at one year old, most doctors still consider it too early to make any type of official autism screening and diagnosis.

That being said, early identification and intervention is key with autism, so it's always a good idea to be aware of what development milestones your child is meeting—or missing.

Here's what the CDC says most babies should be able to do at 12 months of age:

  • Play games, like "peek-a-boo" with you
  • Crawl
  • Wave "bye-bye"
  • Have a name for their parent, such as "mama" or "dada"
  • Drink from a cup
  • Pull themselves up to a standing position
  • Walk around furniture
  • Understand the word "no"

Signs of Autism in Babies at 18 Months Old

The earliest some symptoms of autism might show up in a child is around 18 months, according to the CDC. Because of this, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) added a special autisms screening to the 18-month-old well child check-up.

That means that starting at 18 months old, your child's pediatrician will be looking out for any potential early signs of autism. By 18 months old, most children should be able to:

  • Identify familiar people
  • Display nervousness around strangers
  • Play pretend
  • Cling to their parent or caregiver in new situations
  • Have joint interactions, such as passing a ball back and forth or looking and interacting as you read a book together

According to the CDC, a child with autism spectrum disorder may display different traits, such as:

  • A lack of back-and-forth communication
  • No interest in new situations
  • A very noticeable lack of eye contact
  • Always preferring to play alone

It's important to know that while it is possible to see some early signs of autism at 18 months old, it's still considered very preliminary and a more definitive diagnosis can be given closer around age two.

Signs of Autism at 24 Months

Around 24 months, your child's pediatrician will complete another autism screening. By this age, more of the patterns and behaviors associated with autism spectrum disorder are more apparent, so a diagnosis may be easier.

The CDC explains that at 24 month old, a child with autism spectrum disorder may display signs such as:

  • Using a repetitive word or phrase out of context
  • Not responding to their name
  • Not pointing to Items
  • Not tolerating any chance in schedule or routine
  • Large, sudden mood shifts and an ability to calm down
  • A focus on one toy and not using a variety of toys

If you have noticed any unusual behavior in your child, it's a good idea to mention what you've observed at their 24 month well child check-up. Additionally, you can set up a separate doctor's appointment if you have any concerns.

And if your doctor notices any potential signs of autism in your child, they will speak to you about next steps, including if more testing is needed and what autism interventions will be best to get started.

The earlier that interventions can be started for a child, the better the outcome, so doctors are dedicated to identifying autism in children as soon as possible. That means that you don't have to be afraid to bring up any potential concerns you have about your child—no one knows your chid better than you and you and their doctor are a team working together to make sure your child has the best start in life possible.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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