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Signs of Autism in Children Ages 18 – 24 Months

If you are the parent or caregiver for a toddler, it is important to know the signs of autism in children. The earlier autism is detected and diagnosed, the sooner therapy such as ABA can begin. The younger a child starts ABA therapy, the better the outcomes. Monitor your child for the signs or symptoms below and seek intervention if they exhibit behaviors or characteristics of autism.

  1. The child may stop reaching developmental milestones or begin losing skills they’ve acquired. The following are examples of skills they may lose: saying 3 or more words (e.g., “mama,” “dada,” “bye-bye”), following one-step directions, imitating actions, climbing furniture without assistance, drinking from a cup without spilling, and being able to feed themselves.
  2. The child may not point to items that they find interesting. Typically, a child will let us know what they want by pointing to things in their environment. However, an autistic child may not make attempts to let us know what they want through gestures.
  3. The child may not show interest in or notice the feelings of others. When others demonstrate their feelings, like a sibling crying or a friend showing excitement, the child may not be reactive to others’ emotions but instead have a very neutral and flat affect.
  4. The child cannot walk, walks only on their toes, or walks with the assistance of someone else. According to developmental milestones, a child should be able to move independently around their environment by 18 – 24 months.
  5. The child does not speak or makes attempts to vocally communicate with others. While most children will start using their words to communicate, an autistic child may not talk or may babble and make sounds as a way to communicate with others.
  6. The child does not imitate simple actions, which include but are not limited to waving, clapping, or jumping. For example, the child may see a caregiver constantly performing a variety of actions, such as sweeping the floor or talking on the phone, but make no attempt to copy those actions.
  7. The child does not follow simple instructions. For example, the child may be told “look,” “come here,” or “sit down” but they may engage in some other behavior or not respond to the instructions. The child may look inquisitive or be nonreactive to your instructions.
  8. The child does not engage in simple back-and-forth conversation and joint attention about something they enjoy, like a specific toy, activity, or interest. If the child is vocal, they may find it difficult to initiate or participate in those conversations.
  9. If vocal, the child has a limited verbal repertoire that includes less than 100 words. The child may not know their name, the names of others, actions, or descriptions.

If you think your child may have autism, screenings are available and recommended for children between the ages of 18 – 24 months. However, a screening is not a formal diagnosis. Please refer to medical specialists including developmental pediatricians, child psychiatrists, pediatric neurologists, or other highly trained clinicians for formal diagnoses.

Also See:
Signs of Autism in Children Ages 12 – 18 Months

3 Early Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). (2023, March 21). Retrieved April 17, 2023, from

Autism Science Foundation. (2022, October 28). Causes, signs and symptoms. Autism Science Foundation. Retrieved April 18, 2023, from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, December 12). Important milestones: Your baby by eighteen months. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 17, 2023, from

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, March 28). Signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved April 18, 2023, from

Author: Paulina Aguirre, Lead Therapist, The Place for Children with Autism – Portage Park

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