I just read this article called, “The Top 9 Signs That Your Infant May Have Autism” and I started to think about how Johnny was as an infant and is it really that simple to notice if you know the signs.
1.) Lack of smiling:
Does your child smile back at you when you give her a warm, joyful smile? Does your child smile on her own? By the age of six months, your infant should be giving you big smiles or happy expressions.
Johnny was always my smiley little guy who was always smiling back at us and smiling at other people. I recently double checked out family pictures and confirmed what I remembered that he was very joyful and loved interacting with people.
2.) Rare Imitation of Social Cues
Does your child imitate the sounds and movements of others? Does he share expressions back and forth? Infrequent imitation of sounds, smiles, laughter, and facial expressions by 9 months of age can be an early indicator of autism.
When Johnny was a baby he would stare at our our faces so intently and get very excited when via cause and effect when he’d get a reaction from us after he did something. He’d get so excited and try to copy something we were doing.
3.) Delay In Babbling & Cooing
Is your child making “baby talk” and babbling or cooing? Does she do it frequently? Your baby should typically reach this milestone by 12 months.
Johnny was always making lots of sounds and babbling away. By 3 months he would say “Goo” very loudly all the time and laugh, by six months he said “Dada” for the first time and loved saying it a lot and then 2 months later he said “Mama”. By 10 months he would say “Da-dum” very loudly all the time and try to sing “Da-dum” into a song he was humming like “Mary had a little lamb”. He could not say the words to the song but he could hum the tune very clearly and loudly so others would remark on it when we were grocery shopping.
4.) Unresponsiveness To Name
Is your baby increasingly unresponsive to his or her name from 6 to 12 months of age? Parents who see this in their child are often concerned it may be hearing loss and are unaware it can be a sign of autism. If you see this behavior in your child, be sure to monitor the signs and consult a doctor.
When Johnny was a baby he always turned and looked at us when we said his name. It wasn’t until he was 2-1/2 that we noticed that he wouldn’t look or would turn his body away from someone who was trying to interact with him.
5.) Poor Eye Contact
Does your child make limited eye contact with you and other loved ones? Does he follow objects visually? Severe lack of eye contact as the baby grows can be an early indicator, as it is a form of communication and comprehension.
Johnny always had lots of eye contact. He was a little flirt and to this day is a flirt who likes to interact with people. The problem I have with this is the suggestion of lack of comprehension due to no or little eye contact. This is not assuming competence and is disregarding the other possibility that maybe the child is taking in too many visuals and needs to turn away to process. Peoples faces are not blank to slates to my son but full of interesting stuff to look at so he says its hard sometimes to keep turning and looking the person in the face.
6.) Infrequently Seeking Attention
Does your son initiate cuddling or make noises to get your attention? Does he reach up toward you to be picked up? Disinterest in seeking a loved one’s attention or bonding is a sign your baby may eventually have difficulty relating to others, which can be a struggle for those on the spectrum as they grow up.
As a baby he loved to cuddle and he would always reach to us. He always craved touch and we know he’s a sensory seeker who prefers to be the receiver then the giver. It was when he was 2-1/2 we noticed he began to withdraw and this was unsettling, he seemed depressed.
7.) Lack Of Gesturing
Does your son gesture at objects or people to communicate? Does he wave goodbye, point, or reach for things? This is a milestone that is typically reached by 9 or 10 months old.
Johnny never waves hello or good bye and to this day he has a hard time doing it. I feel like it’s a gross motor thing and he feels uncomfortable doing it. He would grunt, point at and come over and grab my arm and use it as a tool to to help him but no waving.
8.) Repetitive Behaviors
Does your child engage in repetitive behaviors such as stiffening his arms, hands, or legs?
Does he display unusual body movements like rotating his hands on his wrists? Does he sit or stand in uncommon postures?
Yes, stimming is a form of self regulation but we all do this but its more subtle in most adults. Some people chew gum, toe tap, tap their fingers, rock a little in their chair but in my opinion in Autism it’s very pronounced. I personally believe that society should just get used to it and not be bothered if a person stims and just wait a minute until they are done and ready to engage.
9.) Delayed Motor Development
Has your daughter experienced significant delays in motor development milestones, such as rolling over, pushing herself up, and crawling?
Besides being behind in learning to talk, Johnny definitely had gross motor delays and should have had OT visits to the house when was a baby to help him meet his milestones. Instead I had a family doctor and lots of friends and family suggest that “boys can take longer don’t worry he will do it when he is ready.” Now I know that when any type of delay is noticed that its okay to seek help because little ones adapt so easily and quickly.
The big thing I noticed that was really different from Johnny and his little sister and other children is how much he enjoyed his mobile in his crib, the exersaucer and his play mat. He figured out at 3 months how to make the play mat make sounds, light up and play music with the kick of a foot and quickly explored every single sensory aspect and cause and effect toy on it. The mobile played music and swirled and he would easily figure out the buttons as a little baby and could watch if for a long time instead of going to sleep. His bouncy chair had toys that hung above him and by 4 weeks he could grab the toys and hold them tight in his hand when he wasn’t suppose to have the pincer grasp yet. It was hard to get him out of his exersaucer because of all the fun cause and effect sensory play that it gave him. Where other little ones would tire out and want out he would laugh and giggle and want to show everyone what he could do. I didn’t know then that he was craving tons of sensory input and he loved the repetition of it all.
After thinking about all of these questions I think that for all parents we need to keep track of how are children are doing but when it comes to Autism its not so easy to identify. Most of the noticeable delays seem to begin showing up around 18 months and I would say that’s exactly what happened to Johnny.