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When Not to Worry About Autism

At some point, all parents compare what their children do against what their cousins' or their friends' children do. "Competitive parenting" ― it makes us all feel a little nutty―and it's very hard to stop. 

Are we worrying too much? Too little? What is enough of a reason to worry? Trust your instincts. You know your child best.

If you note that your child is not developing like other children or something just seems off, it is important to talk with a trusted source.  

​Parents: Talk with Your Child's Doctor If You Are Worried at Any Time!

If at any time you worry that your child isn't expressing a range of emotions, communicating thoughts, or reflecting an understanding of your language, visual cues, and behavior, talk with your child's pediatrician.

There are screening tools the pediatrician may use to evaluate your concern. You can also complete a free developmental milestone checklist online and share that with your pediatrician. This is an excellent way to communicate your concerns. Read these tips about "How to Talk with the Doctor" for more ideas. 

Remember, you know your child best and your concerns are important. Together, you and your pediatrician will find the best way to help your child.

If you don't feel heard or you continue to worry, schedule another visitIf you still worry, contact another doctor for a second opinionInstincts serve us very well when it comes to parenthood.

Find some peace of mind if your child is doing many of the behaviors listed below!

Reassuring Developmental Milestones for Infants & Toddlers

In her book, Mama Doc Medicine: Finding Calm and Confidence in Parenting, Child Health, and Work-Life Balance, Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson lists the following as signs that your child is developing great communication skills on time:

  • Responds to her name between 9 and 12 months of age

  • Smiles by 2 months of age; laughs and giggles around 4 to 5 months; expresses with eye contact and smiles or laughter to your humor around 6 months

  • Plays and thinks peek-a-boo is funny around 9 months of age. Share enjoyment with you during this game

  • Makes eye contact with people during infancy

  • Tries to say words you say between 12 and 18 months of age

  • Uses 5 words by 18 months of age

  • Copies your gestures like pointing, clapping, or waving

  • Imitates you, i.e., pretends to stir a bowl of pancake mix when you give him a spoon and bowl or pretends to talk on the phone with a play cell phone

  • Shakes head "no"

  • Waves bye-bye by 15 months of age

  • Points to show you something interesting or to get your attention by 18 months of age

Additional Resources:


Editor's Note: Children with ASD may have other medical problems that may need further evaluation and treatment. These may include seizures, problems with sleep, gastrointestinal problems (feeding problems, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, and behavioral health problems (such as anxiety, ADHD, irritability, and aggression).

Last Updated
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2019)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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