By Amy L. Jablonski, Psy.D., BCBA-D

Autism spectrum disorder is a complex developmental condition that can cause social, communication, and behavioral challenges. Although it can be diagnosed at any age, symptoms typically appear in the first two years of life. Around 1 in 36 children has autism spectrum disorder according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To meet the diagnostic criteria for autism, an individual must have persistent deficits in communication and social interaction as well as a pattern of restricted or repetitive behaviors. Signs that could indicate the presence of autism in a young child include:

  • A lack of eye contact and limited facial expressions
  • Little to no gestures, such as pointing or waving goodbye
  • Repeating words over and over
  • Not asking questions or engaging in back-and-forth conversation
  • Not noticing other children and joining them in play
  • Reacting strongly to sounds, lights, clothing, and other sensory input
  • Exhibiting self-soothing behaviors such as rocking, spinning, or hand flapping

If you are concerned about your child’s development, trust your instincts. Discuss your concerns with your child’s pediatrician who can refer you to an autism screening specialist. An autism diagnosis cannot be made by just anyone. It is an in-depth process involving specialized diagnostic instruments and detailed observations. Children with autism have the best chance of reaching their greatest potential when they receive services aimed at increasing their skills and independence at an early age.

The Summit Center offers comprehensive autism evaluations and intensive early intervention services. To learn more about these programs, and other programs that help children achieve a high quality of life, visit or call 716-629-3400.

Amy L. Jablonski, Psy.D., BCBA-D, is President of The Summit Center.