Early Autism Detection Leads to Better Outcomes

Find out how early autism can be detected and the signs to look out for.

Autism is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact. While it has been proven that early detection does lead to better management later, the disorder can be managed, and the individual can lead a relatively normal life through the various emotional and physical therapies available.

Early Autism Detection Leads to Better Outcomes
Autism. Image/Rawpixel

In the US, you will also find an autism services center that offers treatment such as ABA and speech therapy in play-based environments. It is important to remember that when your child is diagnosed with autism, there are options available to help your child live a better-quality life. However, early detection is ultimately what gives a child the best possible chance in life.

Let’s look at how early you can pick up on autism.

What is the earliest age to detect autism?

Let’s now try to understand how early autism can be detected. Since the first stages of a human’s life largely consist of rapid changes, it becomes quite difficult to detect any kind of disorder, this is no different with autism.

Pediatricians generally screen babies for autism between one and three years old. There have also been multiple cases where symptoms start showing up as young as six months old or as late as four years old.

In most cases, children are diagnosed at around two years of age because this is when autism symptoms begin to stabilize, making it easier to detect.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that symptoms of autism most accurately appear in children when they are two or around two years old. There are also cases where children are diagnosed at 18 months.

This is why having your baby screened and diagnosed as early as possible leads to a better life in the future. So, it is best to check your child’s development milestones to understand the signs.

autism signs
Photo by Tara Winstead on Unsplash

What are the signs?

We’ve looked at how early the disorder can be detected, now let’s look at some of the signs. A broad overview includes children not making eye contact, a delay in using speech to communicate and overall communication skills or lack thereof, getting upset when routines are shaken up, unexpected reactions to sounds, tastes, smells, sights, as well as touch, and finding it difficult to interpret and understand other’s emotions.

It’s important to note that you need to seek the help of a medical professional if you notice any of the above. Since people with autism have difficulties with communication and connecting emotionally and socially with others, it’s important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible to establish the best kind of therapy.

If you are unsure what these signs are, here are further key indicators. Remember that it is vital you seek medical advice from a doctor or psychologist.

  • Avoids eye contact
  • Often a delay in speech and overall lack of communication skills
  • Heavily dependent on routines to function
  • Feels confused or upset at minor changes
  • Agitated at unfamiliar sounds, tastes, sights, touch, as well as smells
  • Finds it difficult to understand the emotions of others
  • Becomes obsessed with certain objects or interests
  • Engages in repetitive behavior such as clapping hands
  • Children who do not respond to their name being called by 12 months old
  • Children who do not point to distant objects by at least 14 months old
look beyond autism
Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Unsplash

The early signs

To understand if your child has autism you need to understand that it becomes clear when your child is not developing as expected. For example, a child should start smiling at 5 months old and if they don’t there might be a deeper issue.

It is also extremely difficult to detect autism in newborns but there are early signs in the first year of a child’s life that can help parents. However, always note that each child is different so their development will be different.

These signs are merely a guide on what to look out for so that you seek medical advice for further testing and the next steps to take.

Look out for the following signs with a baby under one year old:

  • Four months old: Babies should be babbling
  • Five months old: Babies should be smiling
  • Six months old: Babies should be laughing
  • Eight months old: Babies should show interest in games such as peek-a-boo
  • 12 months old: Babies should respond to their names and point at objects

In general, be aware if: your baby is alarmed by noise, not looking to you as the parent for comfort, happy to play alone for extended periods, no eye contact.

To help you make informed decisions, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has an Autism Spectrum Disorder Fact Sheet, with useful information and contact details.


Lori Bell, B.A.

Lori Bell former-journalist-turned-novelist. Always an avid writer, she began freelancing in 2015 to fund her travels in South America.

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