Home » Blogs » Practical Psychoanalysis » Recognizing Early Warning Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Your Baby

Recognizing Early Warning Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Your Baby

As a parent, noticing that something may be different about your baby can be quite worrisome. Naturally, if you are a worrier (and what mother isn’t), your mind may jump to various, scary scenarios. Questions like “Is something wrong with my baby?” “Is my baby autistic?,” “Is s/he developmentally delayed?,” “Is this normal?”, “Do I need to worry” are not unusual, especially for a first-time parent.Early warning signs of autism in your baby

If you do what most people do nowadays, you are probably frantically researching countless of websites, blog posts and articles to help you find some answers, which may have lead you to this post. Many parenting posts mention that each child is different and takes things at his/her own pace, leaving it open for interpretation if your baby is indeed delayed in their development. That can be even more confusing.

The best thing to do is consult with a professional, a pediatrician or a therapist, who specializes in child development. However, if you haven’t gotten that far yet, here is general description of early signs of autism spectrum disorder to help you determine whether or not it will be beneficial to consult with your doctor.

Warning sing #1: Your baby doesn’t make good eye contact, doesn’t smile or respond with giggles or sounds to you, and often seems to be in his/her own world. Eye contact and social smile are the first forms of communication in infants, which  is one of the areas of functioning that autistic kids have a major difficulty in.

Warning sign #2: Your baby doesn’t seem excited to play with you or other people by pointing at objects, giving them back to you and engaging in a reciprocal social interaction. For infants and toddlers, play is the main form of social interaction other than speech. Most autistic children struggle to play with others and prefer to engage with objects on their own.

Warning sing #3: Your baby doesn’t respond when you call his/her name by 12 months. Most babies learn their name between five and seven months and would typically turn around and look at you when you call them.

Warning sign #4: Your baby does not say simple two-syllable words by 12 months like “ma-ma” and “da-da.” Language delay impairment is characteristic of autistic spectrum disorder and it looks different, depending on the age of the child and where they are on the spectrum.  

Warning sign #5: Your baby seems very sensitive to certain sounds, textures or clothes, making him/her more irritable, fussy, difficult to console. Sensory issues are common for children with autistic spectrum disorder and since babies cannot say what’s bothering them, they may be extra fussy and difficult to console.

Warning sign #6: Your baby engages in repetitive and stereotypical behaviors such as rocking back and forth over and over again, head banging or hand flapping. Some of these behaviors happen from time to time during the first years of life and there’s nothing to worry about. However, if this is a recurrent pattern for your baby and you are concerned about it, it’s important to listen to your gut.

If your baby exhibits some or several of these warning signs between the ages of 6 and 24 months, don’t be alarmed. Simply, consult with your pediatrician and request an evaluation – sometimes the symptoms of autism resemble other developmental difficulties and vice versa so it is important not to self-diagnose.

In general, the earliest that autism spectrum disorder is diagnosed, the sooner you can seek professional support and early intervention. Research has confirmed that early intervention is essential for the later success of people with autistic spectrum disorders.

Remember, just because your child may be different from others, it doesn’t mean that they are “defective.” In fact, many kids with autism spectrum disorder are very sensitive, smart or talented and if supported from an early age with proper interventions, can grow up to be productive members of society.


For more articles on common mental health issues affecting you and your family, subscribe to Mental Health Digest and get the latest issue emailed to you today by leaving your name and email address in the contact form here.

You may also like:

Parenting children with special needs: The 1 intervention you can’t afford to neglect. 

What does acting out mean and what can you do to help?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: How to support your anxious child.

Depression in Adolescence: 5 Insights Every Parent Needs to Know

Recognizing Early Warning Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Your Baby

Mihaela Bernard, MA, LCPC

Mihaela Bernard, MA, LCPC is a licensed clinical professional counselor and founder of Inside Family Counseling, LLC in Chicago. She is a Professional Member of the American Counseling Association and a member of Chicago Psychoanalytic Circle of the Freudian School of Quebec, Canada. She is the author of Mental Health Digest electronic magazine, your free, easy-to-read electronic resource on common mental health issues affecting you and your family, plus some suggestions on how to address them. She specializes in psychoanalytic psychotherapy for troubled children and adolescents, who face behavioral and emotional challenges at home and at school. Her mission is to empower, support and guide children, adolescents and their parents to a happy and healthy family. Mihaela also writes a Parenting Blog, where parents find helpful resources and practical tips on how to support their child and adolescent's behavioral and emotional development. You may find out more about her at

No comments yet... View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
, . (2015). Recognizing Early Warning Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Your Baby. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 17 Dec 2015
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.