The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) list five behaviors that signal further evaluation is warranted.

  1. Does not babble or coo by 12 months
  2. Does not gesture (point, wave, grasp) by 12 months
  3. Does not say single words by 18 months
  4. Does not say two-word phrases on his or her own by 24 months
  5. Has any loss of any language or social skills at any age

Having any of these five “red flags” does not mean your child has autism, but because the symptoms of the disorder vary so much, a child showing these behaviors should be evaluated further by a multidisciplinary team.


  1. Doesn’t make eye contact (for example, doesn’t look at you when being fed)
  2. Doesn’t smile when smiled at
  3. Doesn’t respond to his or her name or to the sound of a familiar voice
  4. Doesn’t follow objects visually
  5. Doesn’t point or wave goodbye or use other gestures to communicate
  6. Doesn’t follow the gesture when you point things out
  7. Doesn’t make noises to get your attention
  8. Doesn’t initiate or respond to cuddling
  9. Doesn’t imitate your movements or facial expressions
  10. Doesn’t reach out to be picked up
  11. Doesn’t play with other people or share interest and enjoyment of others
  12. Doesn’t ask for help or make other basic requests

It is important to note that not all signs of autism appear in all autistic children.  The degree to which they appear may vary greatly as well.