THE timing and severity of autism’s first symptoms can vary widely. Some children with autism show hints of future problems within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms may not become obvious until 24 months or later. Some children with autism appear to develop normally until around 18 to 24 months of age and then stop gaining new skills and/or start losing skills.The following “red flags” suggest a child is at risk for autism. Some children without autism have some of these symptoms, and not all children with autism show all of them. That’s why further evaluation is crucial. POSSIBLE SIGNS OF AUTISM IN BABIES AND TODDLERS: >> By six months, no social smiles or other warm, joyful expressions directed at people. >> By six months, limited or no eye contact. >> By nine months, no sharing of vocal sounds, smiles or other non-verbal communication. >> By 12 months, no babbling. >> By 12 months, no use of gestures to communicate (e.g. pointing, reaching, waving etc.). >> By 12 months, no response to name when called. >> By 16 months, no words. >> By 24 months, no meaningful, two-word phrases. Loss of any previously acquired speech, babbling or social skills POSSIBLE SIGNS OF AUTISM AT ANY AGE: >> Avoids eye contact and prefers to be alone. >> Struggles with understanding other people’s feelings. >> Remains non-verbal or has delayed language development. >> Repeats words or phrases over and over (echolalia). >> Gets upset by minor changes in routine or surroundings. >> Has highly restricted interests. >> Performs repetitive behaviours such as flapping, rocking or spinning. >> Has unusual and often intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colours.