Friday, September 2, 2011

First Concerns, Signs and Red Flags of Autism

Being that we have the pleasure of working with lots of families throughout the year we are exposed to many different circumstances leading to the spectrum.  Pediatricians are often thought to be the first line of defense.  What if delays aren't recognized? 

"He's just a boy", "All children develop at different paces", "His/her older sibling just does the talking for them", "Call if there is still a problem in a year", etc are some of the things parents are being told.  Children not speaking any words at 3, 4, 5 years of age is not something that should go unnoticed but it does.  This is NOT all pediatricians or only happening only at these offices but the fact that it happens at all is concerning.  How can we help get the word out about signs?  There are subtle differences in some children that are rarely picked up until later but what about the obvious/clear delays?

Thanks to the Internet, many families have been able to seek out information on their own.  Autism Speaks Videos are a great way to see red flags at an early age to see if they apply to your child.  There are great books such Does My Child Have Autism? and even screening tools that parents can download on their own:

What a few of the red flags?
*Communication difficulties; with or without language delays
*Limited/Poor eye contact
*Echolalia; repeating other's language immediately or later on (such as repeating scripts from TV and movies)
*Little gesturing; pointing, describing by showing, etc
*Difficulties getting along with others; especially peers their own age
*Difficulties with imaginary or creative play
*Repetitive behaviors/movements
*Sensitivity to sounds, lights, clothing, food, etc.

These are only a few of the signs to look out for and should be followed up with an evaluation rather than diagnosing on your own.  Even if your child initially is labeled 'Developmentally Delayed' this can be a great way to access services.   It is concerning that recently in the news some of the Screening Tools were in the press for possible alerting too many families to autism.  We are missing many children early on, therefore, seeing screening tools as a hindrance rather than a guide is a problem. 

We have had a couple of our families share their story on our blog regarding their experiences with the diagnosis and would love to hear more.  Improving our communication among professionals is important to identify children as soon as possible.  We have added a survey to the right of the main page to find out who is alerting families.  What were your first signs?  When were you concerned?  Who helped identify red flags? 

We would love any input!!



  1. Hi
    Referring to an earlier post: I am an adult with High functioning Autism and an OCD diagnosis. I am desperately trying to work out which of my symptoms belong to which condition. It is important for me to understand. Doctors here in the UK that I've had treatment with do not seem to know. All but 1 psychologist that I've met have only a very basic knowledge of Autism. Please could you shed any more light on the how OCD displays in people that also has Autism.

    Many Thanks

  2. Hi Steve,
    Thank you so much for your input! I believe you are referring to this post: We were quite impressed with Dr. Abramowitz and his descriptions of the subtle differences with autism and OCD.
    We obviously can't answer specifics regarding your concerns but want to help as much as possible! We described some of the basic differences with regards to the repetitive behaviors of autism and the compulsions & obsessions with OCD. They definitely can look a lot a like but there are important distinctions to make.
    Dr. Abramowitz has written a number of articles and books that may assist in the area of OCD. His links can be found here:
    We hope for the best on your journey! We would love to hear more about your story and always open to guest posters:
    Take care!