|Autism, which affects thought, perception and attention, is a broad
spectrum of disorders that ranges from mild to severe. If an infant does
not cuddle, make eye contact or respond to affection and touching,
or have abnormal responses to a combination of senses; such as hearing,
balance, smell, taste and reaction to pain, parents should be seriously
This lack of responsiveness may be accompanied by an inability to communicate
appropriately, and by a persistent failure to develop two-way social relationships.
The language skills
may be poor, even nonexistent, sometimes repeating words or phrases in
place of normal language or useing gestures and pointing instead of words.
In addition, the child may show unusual or extreme responses to objects,
either avoidance or preoccupation. Another feature of autism is a tendency
toward repetitive activities of a restrictive range, like spinning and
rhythmic body movements.
Baby's Communication Milestones
Keep in mind that this chart notes average progress.
The vast majority of children who do not meet these
milestones still end up with normal language skills.
|Turns toward mother's or father's voice
|Recognizes mama and
|Says first word
|Has vocabulary of 8-10 words
|Has vocabulary of 15-18 words
|Speaks in two-word phrases; Has vocabulary of 50 words.
|Can answer "who", "why", and "where", questions; Has
vocabulary of 500 words.
|Can tell a story
Autism and related disabilities, such as PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental
Disorder - Not
OtherwiseSpecified), and Asperger's Syndrome are difficult to diagnose,
especially in young children where speech and reasoning skills are still
developing. Parents who suspect autism in
their child should ask their pediatrician to refer them to a child
psychiatrist, who can accurately diagnose the autism and the degree
of severity, and determine the appropriate educational measures. Autism
is a serious, lifelong disability. However, with appropriate intervention,
many of the autism behaviors can be positively changed, even to the
point that the child or
adult may appear, to the untrained person, to no longer have autism,
and have a full range of life experiences.
For more information go to Autism