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Signs of Autism in Toddlers

Identifying the early signs of Autism in young children can be difficult if you are not an autism expert. A lot of these signs are common to all children but they are seen more often in children who have autism or who have autistic traits.

Below are some common red flags for autism in the toddler stage – if your child is showing some of these signs, then it is time to check in with a qualified professional.

By end of 12 months

  • Does not pay attention to or frightened of new faces
  • Does not smile, does not follow moving object with eyes
  • Does not babble, laugh and has difficulty bringing objects to the mouth
  • Has no words
  • Does not turn head to locate sounds and appears not to respond to loud noises
  • Does not push down on legs when feet placed on a firm surface
  • Does not show affection to primary caregiver, dislikes being cuddled
  • Does not crawl, cannot stand when supported
  • Does not use gestures such as waving or pointing


By 24 months

  • Cannot walk by 18 months or walks only on his toes, cannot push a wheeled toy
  • Does not speak; does not imitate actions, cannot follow simple instructions
  • Does not appear to know the function of common household object such as a telephone by 15 months


By 36 months

  • Very limited speech, does not use short phrases, has difficulty in understanding simple instructions
  • Has little interest in other children, has difficulty separating from mother or primary care-giver
  • Difficulty in manipulating small objects
  • Has little interest in ‘make-believe’ play
  • Frequently falls, has difficulty with stairs
What next? New diagnosis? Overwhelmed? Our experience and understanding can help. start here