Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center

Font Size

Routine Autism Screening Recommended

Report Highlights Subtle Autism Signs to Look for During Wellness Visits With Doctor
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 29, 2007 -- All children should be screened for autism at age 18 months and again at age 2 even if they show no signs of developmental delay, according to new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The hope is that universal screening during well-child pediatric checkups will lead to earlier diagnosis of the disorder. There is growing recognition that early diagnosis and intervention can result in better outcomes for children with autism and related disorders.

The guidelines were released Monday at the AAP annual meeting in San Francisco, along with reports highlighting developments in the identification and management of autism.

The reports are published in the November issue of the AAP journal Pediatrics.

Possible Signs of Autism

While language delays are the most common reason for evaluating children for autism, more subtle warning signs have been identified for babies who are not yet at the talking stage.

Some of these signs can be recognized before a child's first birthday, including a delay in smiling, failure to follow a parent's gaze, and failure to respond to his or her name or a parent's pointing gesture by age 10 to 12 months.

Other early warning signs include:

  • Failure to point as a means of directing a parent or caregiver's attention by age 12 to 14 months
  • Lack of "back and forth" babble with a parent or caregiver as a means of communication by around the age of 6 months
  • Failure to make eye contact

Forming an attachment with an uncommon object, such as a flashlight, keys, or a ballpoint pin instead of a stuffed animal, blanket, or other soft item may also indicate a problem.

But report co-author Chris Plauche Johnson, MD, is quick to point out that many normally developing children form attachments to unusual objects, just as many children with autism make eye contact.

"None of these subtle indicators should be taken in isolation as a definite sign of autism," the University of Texas Health Science Center pediatrics professor tells WebMD.

But they can alert parents and pediatricians to a potential problem before less subtle indicators become obvious, she says.

Today on WebMD

girl at window
Symptoms within the first 2 years of a child’s life.
boy playing a violin
How is this condition similar to autism?
Mother and daughter indoors playing
Play therapy may undo the disorder in at-risk babies.
preschool age girl sitting at desk
What causes this rare form of autism?
High Functioning Autism And Asperge Syndrome
Gluten Free Diet Slideshow
Mother and daughter indoors playing
man on bicycle
girl at window
Mother hugging teenage son
Understanding Rett Syndrome
Home Care Tips

WebMD Special Sections