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Spotting Signs of Autism in Toddlers: What Parents Need to Know

March 22, 2024

By ABA Psychological Services

At ABA Psychological Services, we want to support parents of young children, helping them learn how to recognize the potential signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in their toddlers. Our goal is to empower parents with insights into ASD, foster understanding, reduce stigma, and provide them with the knowledge and resources necessary to champion their child's well-being.

In this blog post, we will explore the signs of autism in toddlers to help parents navigate this crucial stage of life. Learn about the early signs of autism, the differences between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism in toddlers, how to test for autism in toddlers, and where to seek support.

Early Childhood Signs of Autism
The early signs of autism can often be observed within the first 1-2 years of age. These signs may differ in type and number, depending on the child's stage of development. These signs can also change over time and become more apparent as they age. Children on the autism spectrum may show differences in development, especially in social and language skills, during infancy and toddlerhood. Some children may also experience regression in certain milestones and abilities.

What Are Signs of Autism in Toddlers?
Some signs may indicate autism in toddlers, including limited or delayed social and developmental skills, atypical communication behavior, repetitive behavior or movements, and special interests. Some of these social and communication signs of autism in toddlers age 2 include avoiding eye contact, inconsistency using gestures or responding to their name, difficulty with simple instructions, and more.

Early behavioral signs of autism include showing intense interest in specific activities and toys and becoming upset when they cannot engage with them. Repeating specific body movements or exhibiting unexpected physical behavior, such as hand flapping, holding their arms stiffly, or predominantly walking on the tips of their toes, are also common signs of autism.

ADHD vs Autism in Toddlers
While attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism may share similar symptoms, they are different conditions and need to be diagnosed. Children with autism tend to struggle with showing interest in things that they don't care about. They usually enjoy order and repetition. In contrast, children with ADHD tend to avoid activities that involve a lot of concentration. They love to talk a lot and may only enjoy doing something for a short time and not repeatedly.

How To Test for Autism in Toddlers
Specialists use standardized assessments during evaluations to diagnose autism in toddlers. Types of screening tools for children and their parents will include Ages and Stages Questionnaires (ASQ), Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales (CSBS), Parents' Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS), Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (MCHAT), and more.

Work With Us
ABA Psychological Services works with Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) to develop effective treatment and service plans for children and adults with autism. Discover how our support team provides practical solutions to help navigate the early stages of autism.

Our ABA Therapy is based on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) principles and focuses on two techniques. One is decreasing challenging behavior and increasing favorable behavior, which can include teaching children with autism skills to be more satisfied in social interactions with other children. The second is to teach new skills and promote adaptive behavior.

Book An Appointment with ABA Psychological Services
We provide clinic-based or in-home services to help children thrive in school, home, and life. Our range of options supports you and your children for success and convenience.

Book An Appointment or contact us today.

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