Developmental Stages of Infants and Children and the ASD Red Flags to look out for

How your child plays, learns, speaks, and acts offers vital clues about your child’s development.

Developmental milestones are things most children can do by a certain age.

Using the chart below, you can check the milestones your child has reached, every growth stage, until he or she is 5 years old.

The first chart gives you some indicative behaviors of normal growth in children, followed by red flags that you must watch for

in autistic children, for the age group mentioned. If your child displays any of the Autism Spectrum Disease symptoms, do visit your doctor for follow up action. The milestones cover – Physical Development, Cognitive Development, Language Development and Psychosocial Development.

Developmental Stage: Infancy: 0-6 months

Social & Emotional Development Language & Communication Development Cognitive Development
·         Prone: lifts head momentarily—rolls from stomach to back.

·         Pulls to sit without head lag.

·         Grasps rattle.

·         Reaches for objects.

·         Plays alone with contentment.

·         Reaches for objects

·         Anticipates food with vocalization

·         Laughs.

·         Smiles readily at most people.

·         Sucks reflexively.

·         Visually tracks to midline.

·         Lifts head when held upright

·         Inspects objects with hands, eyes, and mouth.

·         Babbles and coos, squeals and gurgles (by 3 months).

·         Distinguishes primary caregivers from others and will react if removed from home.

·         Smiles selectively at mother’s voice.

·         Shows startle reflex to sudden noise.

 

Autism Red Flags during Infancy stage 0-6 months

·         Doesn’t watch things as they move

·         Doesn’t smile at people

·         Can’t hold head steady

·         Doesn’t coo or make sounds

·         Doesn’t bring things to mouth

·         Doesn’t push down with legs when feet are placed on a hard surface

·         Has trouble moving one or both eyes in all directions

·         Doesn’t try to get things that are in reach

·         Shows no affection for caregivers

·         Doesn’t respond to sounds around him

·         Has difficulty getting things to mouth

 

 

Developmental Stage: Infancy: 6-12 months

Social & Emotional Development Language & Communication Development Cognitive Development
·         Creeps

·         Sits without support

·         Pulls to stand to cruise furniture

·         Transfers objects hand to hand.

·         Bangs with spoon.

·         Finger feeds part of meal. Shakes bell.

·         Crawls on all fours.

·         Attains sitting position unaided.

 

·         Smiles and vocalizes to own mirror image.

·         Says “ma-ma,” “da-da” (nonspecific).

·         Shakes head “no-no.”

·         Imitates playful sounds.

 

·         Responds to name with head turn, eye contact, and smile.

·         Discriminates strangers (e.g., frowns, stares, cries).

·         Stranger/separation anxiety begins.

·         Actively seeks adult attention; wants to be picked up and held.

·         Plays peekaboo.

 

Autism Red Flags during Infancy stage – 12 months

·         Doesn’t make vowel sounds (“ah”, “eh”, “oh”)

·         Doesn’t roll over in either direction

·         Doesn’t laugh or make squealing sounds

·         Seems very stiff, with tight muscles

·         Seems very floppy, like a rag doll

·         Doesn’t crawl

·         Can’t stand when supported

·         Doesn’t search for things that she sees you hide.

·         Doesn’t say single words like “mama” or “dada”

·         Doesn’t learn gestures like waving or shaking head

·         Doesn’t point to things

 

Autism in toddlers

Image Courtesy: HealthTap

Toddler Years: 12-18 months

Social & Emotional Development Language & Communication Development Cognitive Development
·         Walks alone.

·         Stoops and stands up again.

·         Jabbers expressively.

·         Communicates by gesture.

·         Vocalizes more than cries for attention.

·         Grasps string with thumb and forefinger.

 

·         Shows strong dependence on primary caregiver with increasing difficulty separating.

·         Shows difficulty quieting and relaxing into sleep.

·         Wants to have caregiver nearby all the time.

·         Gives toy to adult on request.

·         Shows sense of “me” and “mine.”

·         Imitates adult activities.

 

 

·         Vocalizes “no.”

·         Has vocabulary of 10–15 words.

·         Fluently uses jargon.

·         Points and vocalizes to indicate wants.

·         Holds cup and drinks with some spilling.

·         Imitates housework.

 

Autism Red Flags during 12-18 months

·         Doesn’t point to show things to others

·         Can’t walk

·         Doesn’t know what familiar things are for

·         Doesn’t copy others

·         Doesn’t gain new words

·         Doesn’t have at least 6 words

·         Doesn’t notice or mind when a caregiver leaves or returns

·         Loses skills he once had

 

 

 Toddler Years: 18-24 months

Social & Emotional Development Language & Communication Development Cognitive Development
·         Runs stiffly.

·         Pushes and pulls large objects.

·         Carries large teddy bear while walking.

·         Moves about house without constant supervision.

·         Comes downstairs on bottom or abdomen.

 

·         Asks for food and drink by vocalizing and gesturing.

·         Uses spoon with little spilling.

·         Replaces some objects where they belong.

·         Points to pictures in books.

·         Points to one body part on request.

·         Has vocabulary of 20 words—mostly nouns.

 

 

 

·         Understands “yours” versus “mine.”

·         Uses the words “me” and “mine.”

·         Enjoys simple stories.

·         Speaks in 2-word sentences (e.g., “juice gone”).

·         Has temper tantrums in situations of frustration

 

Autism Red Flags during toddler stage 18-24 months

·         Doesn’t use 2-word phrases (for example, “drink milk”)

·         Doesn’t know what to do with common things, like a brush, phone, fork, spoon

·         Doesn’t copy actions and words

·         Doesn’t follow simple instructions

·         Doesn’t walk steadily

·         Loses skills she once had

 

Toddler Years: 24-30 months

Social & Emotional Development Language & Communication Development Cognitive Development
·         Jumps in place.

·         Walks on tiptoe (imita- tion).

·         Walks up and down steps, both feet on each step.

·         Often calls self by first name.

·         Cannot wait or delay gratification.

 

·         Speaks 50 or more words.

·         Has vocabulary of 300 words.

·         Uses phrases and 3- to 4-word sentences.

·         Initiates own play activities.

·         Want routines “just so.”

 

 

·         Zips and unzips.

·         Builds tower of 6–8 cubes.

·         Learning to use buttons, zippers, and buckles.

·         Pulls on socks.
Pulls on pants or shorts.

 

Autism Red Flags during Infancy stage 24-30 months

·         Falls down a lot or has trouble with stairs

·         Drools or has very unclear speech

·         Can’t work simple toys (such as peg boards, simple puzzles, turning handle)

·         Doesn’t speak in sentences

·         Doesn’t understand simple instructions

·         Doesn’t play pretend or make-believe

·         Doesn’t want to play with other children or with toys

·         Doesn’t make eye contact

·         Loses skills he once had

 

Pre-School Years: 3 Years

Social & Emotional Development Language & Communication Development Cognitive Development
·         Builds tower of 6–8 cubes.

·         Turns book pages singly.

·         Holds pencil with thumb and forefingers.

·         Uses verbal commands.

·         Gives full name when asked.

·         Toilet training in progress.

 

·         Verbalizes toilet needs.

·         Uses plural.

·         Increases use of verbs.

·         Begins using adjectives and prepositions.

·         Has vocabulary of 900– 1,000 words

·         Asks, “What’s that?”

 

·         Drinks from cup without spilling.

·         Helps put things away.

·         Understands and asks for “another.”

·         Points to 4 body parts.

·         Does not share.

·         Knows identity in terms of sex and place in the family.

 

Autism Red Flags during Preschool 3 Years

·         Falls down a lot or has trouble with stairs

·         Drools or has very unclear speech

·         Can’t work simple toys (such as peg boards, simple puzzles, turning handle)

·         Doesn’t speak in sentences

·         Doesn’t understand simple instructions

·         Doesn’t play pretend or make-believe

·         Doesn’t want to play with other children or with toys

·         Doesn’t make eye contact

·         Loses skills he once had

 

Preschool Years: 4 Years Old

Social & Emotional Development Language & Communication Development Cognitive Development
 

·         Runs smoothly, varying speeds.

·         Hops on one foot (4–9 times).

·         Balances on one foot (8– 10 seconds).

·         Throws ball overhand.

·         Handles stairs with alternating feet using rail.

 

·         Understands opposite analogies.

·         Follows 3-stage commands.

·         Listens eagerly to stories.

·         Follows directions with prepositions (e.g., “above,” “under”).

·         Uses all parts of speech correctly.

·         Has vocabulary of 2,000- plus words.

·         Uses color names.

 

 

 

·         Has established hand dominance.

·         “Writes” on page at random.

·         May try to print own name.

·         Is dogmatic and dramatic.

·         Urge to conform/ please is diminished.

·         May have control issues.

 

Autism Red Flags at 4 Years

·         Can’t jump in place

·         Has trouble scribbling

·         Shows no interest in interactive games or make-believe

·         Ignores other children or doesn’t respond to people outside the family

·         Resists dressing, sleeping, and using the toilet

·         Can’t retell a favorite story

·         Doesn’t follow 3-part commands

·         Doesn’t understand “same” and “different”

·         Doesn’t use “me” and “you” correctly

·         Speaks unclearly

·         Loses skills he once had

 

 

Preschool Years: 5 Years Old

Social & Emotional Development Language & Communication Development Cognitive Development
 

·         Balances on one foot.

·         Skips smoothly.

·         Uses roller skates.

·         Rides bicycle with training wheels.

·         Balances on tiptoes.

·         Handedness firmly established.

 

 

·         Listens briefly to what others say.

·         Understands 6,000 words. Categories words.

·         Repeats days of the week by rote.

·         Defines words and asks for word meanings.

 

 

·         Acts out stories.

·         Gives rhyming word after example.

·         Enjoys small group cooperative play—often noisy.

·         Listens and participates in 20-minute group activity.

·         Knows when certain events occur.

·         Accepts adult help and supervision.

 

Autism Red Flags during 5 Years

·         Doesn’t show a wide range of emotions

·         Shows extreme behavior (unusually fearful, aggressive, shy or sad)

·         Unusually withdrawn and not active

·         Is easily distracted, has trouble focusing on one activity for more than 5 minutes

·         Doesn’t respond to people, or responds only superficially

·         Can’t tell what’s real and what’s make-believe

·         Doesn’t play a variety of games and activities

·         Can’t give first and last name

·         Doesn’t use plurals or past tense properly

·         Doesn’t talk about daily activities or experiences

·         Doesn’t draw pictures

 

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