Autism: How Parents Can Read the Signs & Support Their Child

Signs of Autism

According to the American Psychiatric Association, “autism spectrum disorder is characterized by persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, including deficits in social reciprocity, nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction, and skills in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships.”

The indicators of autism can appear as early as 12 months.  A toddler/child with autism generally:

  • Tunes out sounds or voices around them
  • Plays in limited ways
  • Uses jargon or made up words instead of common words
  • Echoes words, but not in a meaningful communicative manner
  • Responds strongly to loud sounds
  • Has difficulty communicating
  • Makes poor eye contact
  • Is more engaged with objects than with people
  • Has a small repertoire of words
  • Has poor social skills
  • Is not able to be consistent in responding to his/her name

This list is intended for educational purposes and not as a diagnosis for your child. Always consult with a professional if you have questions about your child’s health, behaviors, or delays.


When it comes to treatment of autism, early intervention is key. If you have any doubts about your child’s development, raise the question to your child’s pediatrician. The earlier a diagnosis is made, the sooner you can get on top of the therapies your child will need.

Parents of children diagnosed with autism have the biggest impact in terms of treatment for their child. Since children need consistent, repetitive models, parents have a great advantage over therapists in that they are with their children for the better part of the day, especially when their children are young.

Adapting a learning program for your child

Children diagnosed with autism require a great deal of support. Repetition along with other modifications to a daily routine are important for their success.

Here are some suggested methods for adapting a learning program for an autistic child:

  • Minimize distractions
  • Work closely with your child (in close proximity)
  • Give short instructions
  • Use visual cues in addition to auditory cues
  • Break tasks into small steps
  • Set up a routine for each task and repeat it in the same way each time