Speech delay, easily upset, low eye contact
I recently came across a fabulous resource published on the Internet by AutismSpeaks, a wonderful non-profit group devoted to helping families dealing with Autism.
It's a collection of short video clips comparing typical early childhood behavior with the types of atypical behavior shown by children diagnosed with autism. This resource is aimed at both parents and medical professionsals to help screen children who should be referred for further evaluation. With the incidence of autism spectrum disorders now estimated at 1 per 150 children, (almost 1 in 40 boys!) they recommend that *every child be screened* once at 18 months and again at 24 months for possible autism issues. Early treatment can make a huge difference in a child's outcome, and early treatment is only possible with early diagnosis.
As the mother of a young boy with autism - one who felt early on that everything was just not right - and who was frustrated at every turn trying to get him properly diagnosed - please, please: If you are concerned about your child's development in any way, watch some of these video clips. They're a bit of a pain to access, but very very good. If you know a young child with autism, you'll 'recognize' him in at least one of these clips.
The very first time someone mentioned "possible autistic spectrum" with regard to our son, I visited a school for young autistic children, and was immediately able to spot that we were on the right track. It's not that I'm so insightful - it's that the behavior is so distinctive, once you know what to look for.
If, after watching these videos, you see cause for concern about a child you know or love, please *insist* on an evaluation by a trained professional. Do not let your pediatrician's reluctance to refer or your insurance plan's lack of coverage deter you. It's too important.
Here is a link that might be useful: AutismSpeaks Video Glossary