Red Flags and Early Signs of Autism in Older Babies 2

Red Flags and Early Signs of Autism in Older Babies

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Parents are usually in the best position to notice early signs of autism in older babies or toddlers. We do, after all, spend the most time with them. Still, it may be difficult to know when to voice these concerns. But if parents are more aware of and familiar with the initial signs of autism, they will feel more confident about discussing these things.

Red Flags and Early Signs of Autism in Older Babies 3

Do you have a gut reaction about your baby’s autism?

Sometimes parents just may have a feeling that something isn’t quite right. Granted, there might be something wrong. Or there might not be. Some children may seem more fussy or disagreeable, unusually sensitive in comparison to other children. Other children may be the exact opposite. 

But is that always an indicator of autism?

No, not always. 

7 Obvious (or not so obvious) Signs of Autism in Older Babies

Instead, there are a few red flags and risk factors that parents will want to be aware of:

  • Not responsive to name
  • May appear to be deaf or have hearing loss 
  • Easily upset with change of routine
  • Higher sensory seeking by two years of age
  • Sensory seeking emerges between 13-15 months (ex. a pattern of behavior that serves to intensify, repeat, or reinforce sensory experiences)
  • Reduced attention disengagement (ex. eye contact, reflexive smiling, reaching out for a hug or to be picked up)
  • Unusual responses to sensory stimuli in their environment

In my new autism diagnosis toolkit, I am including a checklist, printable timeline, and several other resources. These are the things I’d wish I’d had when my daughter was first diagnosed.

Is my toddler sensory seeking or just being a toddler?

Sensory seeking includes licking, smelling, or visually sighting objects, craving intense pressure or movement, or being fascinated with specific sounds. Now, this could very well apply to any toddler at any point in time, right?

It’s why I would be cautious to say that all older babies or toddlers are on the autism spectrum.

Let’s be real here: one of the other things to look for is hyperactivity. And I’ll be honest? I’ve yet to meet a toddler who is capable of sitting still for long periods of time. 

Red Flags and Early Signs of Autism in Older Babies 4

Is there any clear indicator of early autism in older babies or toddlers?

Absolutely! One of the most serious signs or risk factors is regression. 

If, for example, your child has started to exhibit some type of speech and then they suddenly go backwards? This is cause for concern. Or, if your child stops playing social games or interactive games, absolutely be concerned. Any loss of speech, babbling, gestures, or social skills should be considered a major red flag. 

Another, but not always, predictor for early autism is when a child has an older sibling on the spectrum. There has been research to indicate the genetics play a factor and younger siblings are about 10-20% more likely to develop autism. Children who are born premature are also at a higher risk.

But, having one (or more) of the above red flags or risk factors is not a 100% indication that your child will be on the spectrum. I would simply advise that you keep a closer eye on their development and address any of your concerns immediately with your child’s pediatrician. 

Red Flags and Early Signs of Autism in Older Babies 5

What do I say to my child’s pediatrician about early autism?

If your child is between 16 and 30 months, your pediatrician may ask you to complete developmental questionnaire and at this stage, it is usually the M-CHAT. However, this is only a screener that was designed to identify children who are at risk. It is not a diagnostic test.

If there are enough concerns following the questionnaire, you will be referred to a developmental pediatrician, developmental psychiatrist, developmental psychologist or other qualified individual who is able to make this diagnosis.

In my new autism diagnosis toolkit, I am including a checklist, printable timeline, and several other resources. These are the things I’d wish I’d had when my daughter was first diagnosed.

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Kori

Content Creator at Kori at Home
Kori is an autistic mom who also happens to have ADHD and Anxiety. She is currently located in Albany, NY where she is raising a neurodivergent family. Her older daughter is non-speaking autistic (and also has ADHD and Anxiety) and her youngest daughter is HSP/Gifted. As an empath, HSP, and highly intuitive individual, Kori brings her own life experiences as an autistic woman combined with her adventures in momming to bring you the day-to-day of her life at home. Kori provides life coaching services for neurodivergent women (and those who identify as women) as well as Oracle card reading, Tarot card readings, and energy healing.

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