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Autism: Red Flag Behaviors

Autism symptoms and behaviors vary and usually fall into these three categories.

Impairment in social interaction:

  • Lack of appropriate eye gaze, little or no eye contact
  • Lack of sharing interest or enjoyment
  • Lack of response to name
  • No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions by nine months or thereafter
  • Lack of interest in peer relationships
  • Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play

Impairment in communication:

  • No babbling by 12 months
  • Does not say single words by 16 months
  • Unusual prosody (little variation in pitch, odd intonation, irregular rhythm, unusual voice quality)
  • No two-word meaningful phrases (without imitating or repeating) by 24 months
  • Any loss of any language or social skill at any age

Repetitive behaviors and restricted interests:

  • Repetitive movements with objects (lining up or stacking)
  • Repetitive movements or posturing of body, arms, hands or fingers
  • Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (for example, hand-flapping, twirling objects)
  • Persistent fixation on parts of objects
  • Rigidity to sameness or patterns
  • Excessive temper tantrums

Adapted from the Autism Society of America, Autism Speaks and First Signs

Early diagnosis is essential

A child may show some or many of the signs above. Some children with autism are very talkative, some are very affectionate, and some use great eye contact. A comprehensive evaluation by a licensed psychologist with experience working with children with autism will help to identify if your child could benefit from autism services.

While children cannot outgrow autism, it is treatable. Early diagnosis and intervention is essential for success.

To learn more

We’re here to answer your questions and address your concerns about your child. Just call Mercyhealth Autism Program at (608) 756-8226 to request services. We will call you to start your child’s assessment process.


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