How to Tell if My Child is on the Autism Spectrum

How to Tell if My Child Should be Assessed for Autism

2 April 2022 • Words by Karla Pretorius 3 mins

1 out of 44 children is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to the CDC (2021). There has been an increase in awareness and acceptance of Autism and the rate of diagnoses. Many parents might wonder what “signs” to keep an eye out for to tell if their child should be assessed for Autism.

Here are some signs of Autism to look out for:

Eye contact or lack thereof

When you play games like “peekaboo” and your child is not responding by tracking your movement, they might be struggling to keep eye contact or might not understand the need for it. Not all children with limited eye contact or lack of it will receive an Autism diagnosis, but it is one of the many signs that might indicate a visit to the pediatrician is needed.


Not registering their name being called

Babies recognize their names as early as 4-6 months. This differs of course for children, but if you notice that your child is not recognizing their name consistently, it might be something to note to your doctor.


Struggling to communicate their needs

From a very young, children learn to communicate their needs quite effectively. It starts with a specific cry, then move to mumbling sounds and then turns into baby talk and expressive language. If your child seems to either not make sounds or make sounds, but it doesn’t seem intentional, you want to speak with your pediatrician.


Stimming

We all engage in self-stimulatory behaviors (or “stimming”) to an extent, where we will flick our pen or perhaps bite our lips unconsciously. These behaviors probably increase when we are a little stressed or highly focused. Perhaps when we feel excited. Babies engage in stimming where they push their bodies back and open their mouths. They may even look out the side of their eyes at an object. If this behavior happens consistently and becomes more evident when your child seems stressed or excited, you can mention this to your pediatrician during your next visit as it may be a sign of Autism.


Socially uninterested

If your child seems uninterested in peers or siblings, it might indicate that they are feeling anxious in these situations. Keep an eye on this withdrawal during social settings and note these down to mention to your doctor.


Developmental milestones

All parents look forward to their children’s ‘firsts’. It is possible for children on the Autism Spectrum not to reach these milestones at the expected time. It is worth noting when your child starts to babble, have you had that ‘Mama’ or Dada’ yet and you expected it some time ago? Is your child pointing, clapping or waving? A few of these milestones not having been met by their expected timeframe might be a point worth raising at your next checkup.


Development regression

Sometimes our children will develop quite typically. Then, some parents believe their children are “losing skills”, such as some words they used to say or the ability to make eye contact consistently. This is worth noting to your pediatrician.





Although these “signs” of Autism might sound quite scary, it just means you might need to support your child with some of the milestones and concepts they struggle with. It could indicate a possible Autism diagnosis, but as professionals and autism advocates, we have come a very far way. There is always support out there for you and your family. We all have some areas that we struggle with. It’s just a good idea to offer extra support from a young age.


Should you feel your child shows any or all of the above signs, it could be a good idea to schedule a meeting with your pediatrician.  


Learn more about Autism by reading our blog, 10 Things Parents of Children with Autism Want You to Know.





Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, December 21). Prevalence and characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

  • Karla Pretorius