Autism Signs: Autism May Be Detectable As Early As Four Months

We always provide the most relevant information on autism signs and the latest news in the autism community. In order for you to have the latest information hot off the press subscribe to our Autism Signs by Email, or by RSS Feed. Have a question? Something you would like to see discussed? Email us at and let us know. We read each and every email.


Photo by peasap


Think for a moment about the high cost to families of children with autism.  Not only the financial costs but the emotional costs as well.  With early detection and early diagnosis of autism comes early intervention.  For families this means more trips to doctors, therapists, and educational services.  It means having outsiders visiting their home three to five times per week.  Families with children diagnosed with autism are likely to have a lower income due to increased medical costs and a need for one parent to be constantly available for the child.  Teenagers with autism experience more bullying and harassment than their typically developing peers. Available services for adults with autism are inadequate at best. One question generally resonates from families who have a child affected with autism: What caused this?

Recently, in San Diego at the International Meeting for Autism Research, risk factors and potential causes of autism were presented.  Keep in mind though, that even with all of the available information and all of the research being conducted, one fact remains true.  The cause of autism has not been identified, and its causes are likely to be as unique and individualized as the children who are affected by it.

One outstanding piece of information which was presented at the meeting is that by us fMRI technology (functional magnetic resonance imaging) there are observable changes in the brain growth of a baby between 4-6 months of age.  This is long before there are any observable behavioral changes in the child’s development.  This abnormal brain growth is especially evident in relation to regressive autism.  This is a fantastic piece of information because it once AGAIN rules out the MMR vaccine given at 12 months old as the cause of autism.

Fortunately, diagnosis of autism are being made at earlier and earlier ages.  I say fortunately because earlier diagnosis leads to earlier intervention, which leads to better outcomes for the affected child.  Eric Courchesne, autism researcher, has discovered that from a very early age in children with autism the connection between the temporal lobe and limbic system is abnormal  In the frontal cortex of a child with autism there are twice as many cells as in typically developing children.  Other risk factors being explored by researchers is maternal risk factors that increase the risk of autism.   To conclude, researchers are in agreement that the exact causes of autism are still unknown; however, we are closer to understanding today than we’ve ever been.  Education and awareness are key to preventing families from falling victim to long disproved myths such as vaccines and cold, unloving mothers being the cause of autism in children.  Today the best thing families can do is be ware of autism signs and be proactive in seeking services if a diagnosis is made.

If you are concerned your child may be displaying signs of autism, please check our autism signs post for specific age groups:

We love hearing from our readers, so please feel free to drop us a line and let us know how you are.  Thanks for reading, and have a great day!



{ 1 comment }

Autism Signs: Rise in Developmental Disabilities Lead by Autism

We always provide the most relevant information on autism signs and the latest news in the autism community. In order for you to have the latest information hot off the press subscribe to our Autism Signs by Email, or by RSS Feed.  We update at least once a week, have fabulous prize drawings, and read all our email.  We would love to hear your story-drop us a line at and let us know a little about you and your family.  Thanks!

Autism Signs

Photo by Hugo's Dad

Some alarming information was published recently.

Developmental Disabilities are on the rise among American children. Autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are the two developmental disabilities leading the increase. Autism rates have increased by an alarming 74% since 1997-1999 and ADHD has increased by 33% since the same time period.

A study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, whose results were published in the journal Pediatrics,   shows that over the past decade developmental disabilities have been increasing. During the period 1997-1999 about 8 million American children had developmental disabilities. In 2006-2008 that number increased by 17% to 10 million American children being diagnosed with developmental disabilities.  The study concludes that today approximately 1 in every 6 American children has a developmental delay.

What is causing this alarming rise in numbers? The researchers attribute the increased diagnosis to a few possibilities:

  1. Improved awareness and diagnostic screening tools.
  2. An increase in preterm births could be contributing to the rise in developmental disabilities.
  3. Lastly, American couples are consistently choosing to have children at older ages and this could be a contributing factor in the rise in developmental delays.

The researchers stated that more research is going to be needed to determine what other environmental factors may be contributing to the overall rise in autism and developmental disability rates.

Based on the information obtained from the study, the researchers have identified some prevalent risk factors that place children at an increased risk of being diagnosed with a developmental disability.

  • Boys are at an increased risk for being diagnosed with a developmental delay or disability than are girls. This is true overall for all developmental delays including autism.
  • Families who have low incomes and live in poverty stricken areas of the United States are more at risk for having a child diagnosed with a developmental delay.
  • Lastly, families who have public insurance are at an increased risk for having a child diagnosed with a developmental delay.

What does all of this mean? For starters, the increase is going to lead to a major increase in demand for services from specialized services in the medical and educational fields. More doctors who specialize in diagnosis and treatment of developmental delays will be necessary. Teachers trained to teach children with special needs at all ages are going to be a crucial part of treatment. Early detection and early intervention services are more important now than ever before.

As a parent it is important that you be an advocate for your child. This means educating yourself on developmental milestones that your child should be reaching at specific ages. You can read about some early autism signs here. Remember that early intervention does not just improve outcomes for children with autism. All children with developmental delays have substantial lifelong benefits by receiving intervention at the earliest age possible.



Autism Signs: Maternal Factors That Increase Risk for Autism

We always provide the most relevant information on autism signs and the latest news in the autism community. In order for you to have the latest information hot off the press subscribe to our Autism Signs by Email, or by RSS Feed.

According to recent findings in the scientific community there are several factors during pregnancy that may increase the chance of having a baby with autism.  Conditions such as fever, diabetes, chronic hypertension, and obesity may be linked with an increase in autism risk in children.


Autism Signs

Photo by o5com

There have been studies completed recently in which the preliminary findings indicate that certain conditions during pregnancy may increase the unborn child’s chance of developing autism or other developmental delays.  The current estimate is that 1 out of every 110 children will be diagnosed with autism!  That is almost 1% of all children.  These are alarming statistics.  The increase in diagnosis may be due to increased awareness; however there is emerging research that indicates that the incidence of autism is actually increasing.

While the exact cause of autism is unknown, some researchers are linking maternal factors that might contribute to the incidence of autism.  Preliminary findings are showing that mother’s who:

  1. Experienced fever during their second trimester of pregnancy are twice as likely to have a child later diagnosed with autism.  This finding adds to a rapidly growing body of evidence that indicates that a mother’s inflammation during pregnancy may lead to autism.
  2. The same study also found that influenza (flu) during any trimester of pregnancy does not increase the unborn child’s risk for autism.
  3. Another study indicates that mothers who were obese prior to and during pregnancy, experienced chronic hypertension, gestational diabetes or type 2 diabetes during pregnancy were at a significantly increased risk of giving birth to a child who would be diagnosed with autism or other developmental delays.

As a matter of fact, the statistics are quite staggering:  Mothers who experienced one of those previously listed factors during pregnancy had a 60% increased risk of giving birth to child later diagnosed with autism; but they had a 150% increased risk of giving birth to a child later diagnosed with other developmental delays!

One interesting fact that was also discovered is that the birthing method has no bearing on the incidence of autism.  Mothers who give birth through C-Section (Cesarean) are not more likely to have a child diagnosed with autism.

While the links between maternal factors during pregnancy and increased risk of the child being diagnosed with autism seem daunting, there is good news!  All of the factors listed in the research are all able to be modified!  These are not uncontrollable factors!  Intervention and awareness can decrease the effect that maternal factors can have on the pathways leading to an autism diagnosis.  Remember that the findings in this research are preliminary and warrant more research and study.
If you experienced a fever during the second trimester of your pregnancy, had diabetes (gestational or type 2), had chronic hypertension or were obese during pregnancy, your child may be at an increased risk for autism-it does not mean your child will have autism.   Being aware of common autism signs is important, especially if your child may be at increased risk for autism.

For a list of common autism signs read this article: Autism Signs: The Most Common Autism Signs

For age specific autism signs you can read these articles:

If you would like to further your reading, we recommendCould It Be Autism?: A Parent’s Guide to the First Signs and Next Steps.  It is available in paperback, as well as instantly via Amazon Kindle for your immediate viewing pleasure.  If you do not have a Kindle, you may download the free version for you mobile device, PC, or Mac here.

Once again, thanks for reading.  If you have any questions, please email me at  Have a great day!



Autism Signs: Avoiding Misdiagnosis

We always provide the most relevant information on autism signs and the latest news in the autism community. In order for you to have the latest information hot off the press subscribe to our Autism Signs by Email, or by RSS Feed.


Photo by Beverly & Pack

Thus far we have spent all of our time discussing autism signs and the importance of getting your child screened. I stand by my firm belief that at anytime you notice any of the signs of autism in your child that you should have them screened by a professional. However, I came across information just this week that I think deserves our attention: Children receiving false positives for autism.

When first I read this information, I was stunned. False positives? What? Really? I asked myself “Does this happen often?” However, once I researched more information, it made perfect sense to me. The primary characteristic of autism according to a study published in The Journal of Mental Retardation is the inability to engage, interact, and communicate meaningfully with parents and other familiar caregivers. The secondary characteristics include other atypical characteristics such as:

  • fixation,
  • over reacting to light, sound, and other stimuli,
  • hand flapping,
  • and walking on toes.

While the secondary characteristics are generally present with the primary characteristic of autism, just having  secondary characteristics is not cause for a diagnosis of autism. When clinicians diagnose a child with autism, often they are basing their diagnosis on autism signs that are a secondary characteristic. This happens especially when two or three of those secondary characteristics are present in a child during the same evaluation.  As we have stated before, each child reaches developmental milestones at their own time and pace.  Being just shy of the norm is not a great cause for alarm.

The secondary characteristics of autism can be indicators of other developmental issues that the child may be experiencing. These include:

  • motor delays,
  • language or speech delays,
  • regulatory sensory processing challenges (the uneven processing of sensations such as sight or sound),
  • immature motor system,
  • or other developmental delays or challenges.

My opinion is that if you notice autism signs in your child that you should seek screening from a professional. However, I do not believe that screening should be a one time, fifteen or twenty minute trip or even the infamous 5 minute checklist that has received so much media attention here lately. A proper diagnosis will require toe clinician to really get to know the child and be aware of how the child functions in their home as well as in other settings such as a day care or in a clinical setting. Diagnosis should be long term, with clinicians observing the child with their parent or caregiver in a comfortable setting.  Home visits should be a part of diagnosis and even video of the child interacting with parents and caregivers should be made to give to the clinician. Even though an initial diagnosis of autism may be made for the child, after observation the diagnosis may change, allowing for more appropriate interventions to happen.

Thanks for reading, and as always-questions, comments, topics you would like to see covered are greatly appreciated.  Drop us a line and let us know a little about you and your story to  Have a great day!





{ 1 comment }

Autism Signs: Ages Three to Five

We always provide the most relevant information on autism signs and the latest news in the autism community. In order for you to have the latest information hot off the press subscribe to our Autism Signs by Email, or by RSS Feed. We would love to hear about you and your story, please email us at and let us know how you are and if there is any information we could research and post for you.  Have a great day!




Although most children who are diagnosed with autism are diagnosed by age 3, there are milder cases that are not diagnosed until preschool or later. Earlier diagnosis is best, but if you find that your preschooler is displaying characteristics of autism: get them screened. Again, the sooner the diagnosis is made, the sooner that intervention can begin and the better the outcome for the child diagnosed with autism.

Certain autism signs are generally the same throughout development. Socially these include:

  1. A child not responding to their name.
  2. Not making eye contact or looking at people.
  3. Lack of smiling.
  4. Not cuddling.

In communication development the autism signs include:

  1. Not speaking or severely limited speech.
  2. Not initiating conversation or interaction.
  3. Echolalia—the meaningless “parroting” of words that are heard without the child understanding the meaning of the words.

Behaviorally look for:

  1. Repetitive movements.
  2. Obsessions.
  3. Fixation on routines or rituals.
  4. Self mutilation.

If at anytime during your child’s development you notice any of these autism signs you should not hesitate to have your child screened.

As your child enters the preschool years there are unique indicators of autism that you may notice. Remember that a child’s development is unique and not all children will reach milestones at the same time. Preschoolers are naturally becoming more social beings: making friends, enjoying conversation with adults, and enjoying being the center of attention. Children displaying autism signs may not do any of those things. Autism affects a child’s social, communication and behavior development.

In addition to the autism signs that are generally the same throughout development for social skills, you can watch for the following social symptoms in preschool age children:

  • Child does not pretend or have imaginative play
  • Child does not participate in social games or social play
  • Child does not have the ability to make friends.
  • Child does not seek help or interact with other children or adults.
  • Child plays alone.

Language development in preschoolers is truly phenomenal. The toddler who spoke only two to three words just a short year ago is now the preschooler who is likely to be a regular chatterbox. Typically developing preschoolers enjoy talking and playing with language: making up words or combining words in ways that they find amusing. Autism signs for language development in your three to five year old may include:

  • No language or very limited use of language.
  • Regression or loss of formerly acquired language
  • Echolalia-the meaningless repetition of words spoken by another person.
  • Lack of ability to begin or maintain a conversation.
  • Repetitive language or very unusual language.
  • Inability to read non-verbal cues from other people such as facial expressions and body language.
  • Takes words literally, unable to understand sarcasm or joking. A smiling and laughing adult saying “don’t do that” means the same as a red faced adult screaming “don’t do that.”

Preschoolers are an amazing age group when we consider their behavior. Most preschoolers are beyond the age of toddler temper tantrums. Preschoolers can generally be reasoned with and made to understand natural consequences. The majority of preschoolers want to behave and do what their parents and caregivers ask of them. This is generally an easier time for parents than the toddler years and a welcome time! Autism signs in behavior development become more apparent in the preschool child.

  • Routines and rituals are extremely important for a child with autism. Something as simple as having strawberry pop tarts instead of blueberry for breakfast can ruin an entire day.
  • Repetitive movements such as rocking, spinning, hair twirling, and hand flapping.
  • Self mutilation– scratching till bleeding, picking at sores, pulling their own hair out, biting themselves and head banging.
  • Overly focused on certain objects or activities
  • Improper use of toys. Instead of rolling cars on the floor the child chooses to line all of the cars up in a specific sequence of colors or sizes.

Recognizing autism signs and symptoms is important! Early detection, diagnosis, and intervention are best for optimal outcomes. If your child is diagnosed in preschool verses the toddler years, do not panic. This does not mean that the outcome for your child is devastating. The important thing is to begin intervention as soon as possible.

A great book for concerned parents: (note-this is an affiliate link, so if you purchase this book we will receive a small percentage of the sale. We use this money to cover hosting cost, as well as donate to worthy autism foundations.)