Red Flags for possible Autism

Warning Signs of Autism in Early Childhood
Parents should ask their child's family doctor for referral to a developmental paediatrician for assessment if there are concerns with any of the following:

Communication Red Flags

• No babbling by 11 months of age
• No simple gestures by 12 months (e.g., waving bye-bye)
• No single words by 16 months
• No 2-word phrases by 24 months (noun + verb - e.g., "baby sleeping")
• No response when name is called, causing concern about hearing
• Loss of any language or social skills at any age

Behaviour Red Flags

• Odd or repetitive ways of moving fingers or hands
• Oversensitive to certain textures, sounds or lights
• Lack of interest in toys, or plays with them in an unusual way (e.g., lining up, spinning, opening/closing parts rather than using the toy as a whole)
• Compulsions or rituals (has to perform activities in a special way or certain sequence; is prone to tantrums if rituals are interrupted)
• Preoccupations with unusual interests, such as light switches, doors, fans, wheels
• Unusual fears

Social Red Flags

• Rarely makes eye contact when interacting with people
• Does not play peek-a-boo
• Doesn't point to show things he/she is interested in
• Rarely smiles social

It is important to note that people with autism may have other disabilities or conditions, eg Epilepsy, Bi-Polar Mood Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Sight Disorders, Difficulties with Sensory Integration, Hearing Impairment and that these need to be addressed also.


The information in this article was kindly provided by The South African Speech, Language, Hearing Association. For further information kindly contact them on: 0861 113 297 or email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.