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Signs of Autism at 1 Year Old

author image Elizabeth Wolfenden
Elizabeth Wolfenden has been a professional freelance writer since 2005 with articles published on a variety of blogs and websites. She specializes in the areas of nutrition, health, psychology, mental health and education. Wolfenden holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in counseling from Oakland University.
Signs of Autism at 1 Year Old
A mother plays with her one-year-old son. Photo Credit Terry Vine/Blend Images/Getty Images


The National Institute of Mental Health notes that that the differences between an infant with autism and an infant without the disorder become apparent between 12 and 36 months of age. When autism is caught early, intensive treatment may be able reverse some of the symptoms or lessen the severity of the disorder, explains HelpGuide.org. However, since the signs of autism consist of the absence of normal behavior rather than the presence of specific signs, parents can miss some of the early warning signs. Parents who learn more about what the average one year old can do may better understand when their baby may be at risk of having this disorder.

No Babbling

Infants with autism often do not begin babbling by 12 months. Between the ages of 12 months to 16 months, most infants say their first word. Infants with autism, on the other hand, may not. Infants that begin babbling or saying single words, but then suddenly stop may also have autism.

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No Gesturing

Many infants start to use meaningful gestures by the time their first birthday arrives. These meaningful gestures may include waving or lifting up their arms when they want someone to carry them. They may bring objects to their parents or point to things that interest them. Infants with autism, however, often do not make any of these meaningful social gestures. As with babbling, some one-year-old babies with autism may have made these gestures previously, but suddenly stopped using them.

Limited or No Social Interaction

From a very early age, most babies enjoy smiles and being cuddled or held. Babies with autism usually do not respond to these things as other babies do. While many one-year-old babies may make noises to get your attention or imitates facial expressions, most one-year-old babies with autism do not. Smiles and eye contact usually do not occur in response to others. They may seem indifferent to expressions of anger or affection. Infants with autism also may not respond to their own name like others their age, and games of peek-a-boo or itsy-bitsy-spider usually do not hold the same appeal. Some infants may have responded to social interaction early on, but the regressed and stopped showing this social awareness.

Unusual Play

One-year-old infants with autism may not play with toys the way their peers do. While other one-year-olds are delighting in dumping containers or making a mess, autistic one-year-olds may spend excessive amounts of time lining up their toys in a particular order. Although many one-year-old children have slight attachment to a certain toy, autistic children may often develop unusual fascinations or obsessions about a certain toy or object.

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