The symptoms of autism always appear early in development.1 Many children show symptoms of autism by 12 months to 18 months of age,2,3 for example:4,5,6
Many parents are not aware of these "early" signs of autism and don't start thinking about autism until their children do not start speaking at a typical age.
Most children with autism are not diagnosed until after age 3, even though health care providers can often see developmental problems before that age.7,8,9
Research shows that early detection and early intervention greatly improve outcomes,10 so it's important to look for these symptoms when a child is as young as possible.11
Some children with autism regress, meaning they stop using language, play, or social skills that they've already learned. This regression usually happens between ages 1 and 2 years. It might happen earlier for some social behaviors, such as looking at faces and sharing a smile. Researchers don't know why some children regress into autism or which children are likely to regress.12,13,14,15,16
There also may be early biological signs of ASD. Recent studies have shown that:
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