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 concerned.
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 using 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.
| 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.
|Social smile||0-2 months|
|Turns toward mother’s or father’s voice||4 months|
|Razzing sound||5 months|
|Recognizes mama and dada||6-9 months|
|Says first word||12 months|
|Has vocabulary of 8-10 words||15 months|
|Has vocabulary of 15-18 words||18 months|
|Speaks in two word phrases; Has vocabulary of 50 words.||20-24 months|
|Can answer “who”, “why”, and “where”, questions;
Has vocabulary of 500 words.
|Can tell a story||4 years|
Autism and related disabilities, such as PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified), 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 Checklist