Common “Red Flags” for Autism Spectrum Disorder

Please consult your child’s Pediatrician if you suspect that your child may have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or if you are concerned about his or her development. Loss of ANY previously acquired language or social skills at any age is a considered a “red flag”.  Keep in mind one or two “red flags” does not necessarily equal a diagnosis. If you have concerns about any of the following, talk with your child’s physician or consider a more formal assessment. Always err on the side of obtaining more information about your child’s development/behavior if you have concerns.

The following may indicate that your child may be at risk for ASD:  


  • Avoids or has fleeting eye contact
  • Does not respond to name or appears not to hear you
  • Difficulty playing with peers
  • Prefers to play alone
  • Appears disconnected
  • Flat affect and no smile
  • Odd use of facial expressions and gestures
  • Difficulty understanding social cues
  • Lack of gestures (i.e. pointing, waving, reaching, showing) to communicate
  • Does not engage in pretend play (plays with toys the same way)
  • Does not like to be held or cuddled
  • Appears unaware of others’ feelings


  • Any loss of words or babbling
  • Delayed speech and language skills
  • No cooing  (by 3 months) or babbling (by 12 months)
  • No back and forth gestures of conversation
  • Little to no motor or speech imitation
  • Not saying single words (by 12 months) or two word phrases (by 24 months)
  • Does not point to objects to indicate awareness or request (by 12 months)
  • Does not follow a point
  • Does not understand simple question or directions
  • Trouble expressing needs and wants through typical words or gestures
  • Repeats or echoes words phrases previously heard over and over again (echolalia)
  • Talks in a flat or sing-song voice
  • Does not understand or respond appropriately to humor


  • Repeats actions over and over again
  • Difficulty transitioning and gets upset about minor changes
  • Melts down if something minor changes in schedule/routine
  • Fascinated by parts of objects (i.e. wheels)
  • Has to follow certain routines
  • Has problems with coordination or odd movements (i.e. walking on toes)
  • Hand flapping, jumping, twirling, rocking
  • Lines up or organizing toys and objects
  • Repeats sounds words or phrases (i.e. TV shows or Movies)
  • Unusual interests or obsessions (i.e. fans, vacuum, Thomas the Tank Engine)

Other Symptoms

  • Odd food preferences
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity
  • Short attention span
  • Self-injurious behavior
  • Lack of fear to more fear than expected
  • Odd sleeping habits
  • Unusual reaction to the way things smell, taste look or sound

The M-CHAT (Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers-Revised) only takes and few minutes and can help you determine if your child should be evaluated.

Adapted from: and


Common “Red Flags” for Autism Spectrum Disorder