Your Child & The Early Signs of Autism


According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, about 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which includes a wide range of challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors and sensory processing, speech and or nonverbal communication in addition to unique strengths and differences.

Research has shown that while ASD can be diagnosed as early as age 2, most children are not diagnosed until after age 4. Parents of children with ASD often notice a developmental problem before their child’s first birthday. Concerns about vision and hearing were more often reported in the first year, and differences in social, communication, and fine motor skills were evident from 6 months of age.

Early Signs of Autism can be:

  • No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions, especially in response to close family members, by six months or thereafter
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months

  • No babbling by 12 months

  • No “interactive” gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months

  • No words by 16 months

  • No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including repeating) by 24 months

  • Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age


The Toddler MRI Study at the SDSU Center for Autism can be a great resource for parents who have any concerns about their child’s social and communication development. The Center provides free developmental assessments by clinical psychologists with expertise in autism. They are also hosting the following community workshops to help families with interest in the topic of autism:

Friday 11/3, Child Development and Early Signs of Autism Workshop at Valley Center Branch Library from 3:30pm to 4:30pm


Wednesday 11/8, Aging and the Brain at the College-Rolando Library from 6pm to 7pm

Sunday 11/12, Child Development and Early Signs of Autism Workshop at Poway Branch Library from 12pm to 1pm


Tuesday 11/14, Child Development and Early Signs of Autism at La Jolla Riford Library from 5pm to 6pm


Tuesday 12/5, Child Development and Early Signs of Autism at Crest Library in El Cajon from 6pm to 7pm


Other local resources available to parents with questions or concerns about their child’s development include:


  •  San Diego Regional Center (state-funded agency). If your child is under 3 years of age, call San Diego Regional Center’sEarly Start Intake Unit at 858.496.4318.


  • If your child is over 3 years of age, your local school district may provide an educational program.




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