A leading expert in Human Development and Psychology at UCLA has revealed five tell-tale signs that your child may display if they have autism.
Professor Connie Kasari hopes to dispel some of the myths surrounding what is often thought of as a mysterious condition reports DailyMail and give parents clues as to what they need to be aware of.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong, developmental condition that affects how a person relates to the world and how they communicate and relate to other people.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention autism affects about 1 per cent of the population, but it is the fastest growing developmental issue in the word as one in every 68 children today will have some form of the disorder - an increase from 1 in 88 in 2012, and 1 in 110 in 2010.
It is proven that early diagnosis is crucial in minimising the effects of autism according to Professor Kasari.
“As many studies have now shown, early intervention is critical for the best outcomes in children with autism, and many believe the earlier the better,” she said.
“Only with a diagnosis can parents begin to obtain necessary intervention services for their child.”
The professor has compiled 5 questions to help parents to recognise the symptoms of autism in babies. Commenting on them, she said:
"It is important to note that in each of the five areas that we have flagged we are most concerned with behaviors that are absent or occur at very low rates.
“The absence of certain behaviors may be more difficult to pinpoint than the presence of atypical behaviors.
“But concerns in any of the five areas above should prompt a parent to investigate screening their child for autism.”
Does the baby respond to his or her name when called?
Normally a baby will respond to their own name being called by turning towards the person who called them.
Often babies who do not respond when their name is called will be later diagnosed with austism. They are often mistakenly thought to have hearing issues.
Does your baby engage in joint attention?
Joint attention is when you point to something and your baby follows your gaze or finger. Alternatively, they will point to something for you to look at.
Often babies with autism will not look when you point at or invite you to see something they are looking at.
Does the child imitate others?
Typical babies will mimic are certain facial expressions, or sounds made by another person. If you clap, they will clap, or you poke out your tongue, they will follow suit.
Babies with autism will very rarely ape someone else's behaviour back to them.
Does the child respond emotionally to others?
Often a baby will smile if you smile at them, laugh if you play with toys with them or cry if they see another child crying.
Usually babies with autism will remain unaware of these emotional cues in others and will not respond.
Does the baby engage in pretend play?
Typical children love to pretend to be mum or dad to a doll, and act like a puppy or an animal. This usually lasts until about age two, although many children often pretend play for much longer.
Children with autism may not connect with other objects at all or may focus obsessively on only one toy, or watching the movement of their hands.