For more information on our recent data notice, please click here


22 Early Warning Signs of Autism


By Scott LaFee   |   March 05, 2015

April is Autism Awareness Month. The disorder is the fastest-growing serious development disability in the United States, affecting 1 in 68 children, according to Autism Speaks, an advocacy group.


While there is no cure, early detection and treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) can dramatically improve the lives of affected children and their families. There is no medical test for diagnosing ASD. Rather, experts assess a child’s developing behaviors and social skills, often beginning as early as 12 months.

Here are some of the things to look for, though only a professional can determine if an infant or toddler is at true risk for an autism spectrum disorder. For more information, visit the UC San Diego Autism Center of Excellence or call 858-534-6912 to schedule an evaluation.

Toddlers between 12-24 months at risk for an ASD MIGHT:

  • Talk or babble in a voice with an unusual tone
  • Display unusual sensory sensitivities
  • Carry around objects for extended periods of time
  • Display unusual body or hand movements
  • Play with toys in an unusual manner
  • Show low enthusiasm to explore new things or appear underactive
  • Seem overly fussy or be difficult to soothe

Toddlers between 12-24 months at risk for an ASD MIGHT NOT:

  • Point at things
  • Babble or talk back and forth with another person
  • Try to gain the attention of others
  • Smile in response to your smile
  • Make good eye contact
  • Show objects to others
  • Point to request
  • Respond to their name
  • Look when you try to direct their attention
  • Enjoy cuddling
  • Show shared enjoyment
  • Say their first word by 12-14 months
  • Use common gestures
  • Show interest in other children
  • Use a large range of facial expressions

Care at UC San Diego Health

Autism Center of Excellence

Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine