What are some signs a child might need an evaluation?

Autism can present in many different ways—that said, there are several signs exhibited by a majority of patients that parents can watch for to determine whether their child may need an autism evaluation. (Written by Dr. Chuck M. Ng.)

Autism has several symptoms that are exhibited by a majority of patients. The key theme to many of these symptoms is that signs of Autism are atypical and not necessarily a delay. The difference between a delay and an atypical behavior is that a delay means a milestone has not been achieved. An atypical behavior is not necessarily a milestone and is also not expected.

Atypical behaviors could be a sign of autism

Here are some classic examples of signs that should prompt an autism evaluation:

Atypical Social Behaviors:

  • Does not make or maintain eye contact by 6 months old
  • Does not respond to name by 9 months old
  • Does not use gestures like waving “hello” by 12 months old
  • Does not point by 18 months old
  • Does not show affection towards family members

Restrictive or Repetitive Behaviors

  • Frequent repetitive movements such as hand flapping, head shaking, or spinning
  • Uncommon manner of playing with toys (such as focusing on small parts like the wheel of a car or lining up toys in restrictive way)
  • Impairing rigidity such as insisting food be a certain brand or served in a specific way
  • An unexpected skill that does not seem consistent with overall development such as not speaking in sentences but able to read words

If your child presents with some of these symptoms, then it is important you approach your pediatrician for advice. Request an evaluation. You can visit the CDC website for more information by clicking on this link. You can schedule a virtual assessment with Potomac Psychiatry by clicking here.


Chuck M. Ng, D.O. is a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician who cares for children with special needs. He has been trained to identify and treat a child’s academic, social, medical, and psychological needs. Read more about Dr. Ng here.