The definition of autism is: any developmental disorder that affects more than one area of a child’s natural development and begins/ has its onset at the age of two. The disorder has to impact at least two or three areas of development that prior to age two the child was developing at a normal rate in.
The areas of concern for most children who may be diagnosed with autism are: social, emotional, intellectual, and physical. The autistic child will lack skills that his or her peers of the same age have.
Delays or regression in locomotion skills like walking, crawling, rolling from back to front, and pulling to a standing position help with the diagnostic process. You should keep in mind that all milestones are hit differently with each child, but if the delays or noticeable regressions are extreme, that is what you want to report to the pediatrician.
Speech delays are another major diagnostic for autism. If a child can’t speak at least twenty words and know what they mean by the time they are two and a half, that is a developmental delay that should be of concern. (Children with Asperger’s will not present this delay at all, and that is why their disorder isn’t discovered until much later in life.) Early intervention can help with speech.
Most commonly, all children with autism disorders will not make regular and fixed eye contact. They will look anywhere else in the room or around your face, head and body, but never into your eyes for very long. This is the beginning of social developmental delays that have a long standing impact on their lives. With therapeutical treatment, it improves. They also miss body language and facial cues because they are not looking at the person or people talking to them.