Understanding Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are a group of complex brain disorders which affect social interaction, communication and behavior. The combinations of symptoms of autism vary from one child to another.

At SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, we know with early diagnosis, earlier therapy can begin and is more likely to be helpful for your child.

Common Signs of ASD

Parents are usually the first to notice unusual behaviors. If you have concerns about your child’s development it is important to share them with your pediatrician.

Common signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders can vary depending on the individual, but they may include:


  • Little or no babbling, pointing to objects, or make meaningful gestures by one year of age
  • May repeat or echo words, phrases, or memorized scripts over and over
  • No longer saying words they once did
  • Difficulty or delay in pretend play
  • Does not use gestures or pointing to communicate needs and wants
  • Does not speak one word by 16 months
  • Does not combine two words by 24 months


  • Repetitive behaviors (rocks, spins, flaps hands, twirls fingers)
  • Strong adherence to routines, order, and rituals/Difficulty with change in routine
  • Preoccupied with parts of toys or objects or observes them from an odd angle
  • Intense area of interest that is abnormal in intensity or focus
  • Obsessed with a few repetitive activities or holding specific items
  • Maybe overly sensitive to sounds/smells/touch/light/textures
  • High pain tolerance
  • May line up toys or other objects

Social Interaction

  • Poor eye contact
  • Lack of interest in peers or social activities
  • Doesn’t respond to parent’s smile
  • Does not respond when name is called
  • Does not point things out or show objects of interest to others

When to Call Your Physician

Early diagnosis is crucial to ensure that your child receives the treatment he or she needs. Communication and language develop in the first few years of life, so earlier treatment can dramatically improve outcomes.

If you are concerned your child may have an Autism Spectrum Disorder, schedule an appointment with your pediatrician to discuss your concerns and request a referral to the Knights of Columbus Development Center at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. Our multidisciplinary team will make specific recommendations for interventions for your child.

Request Appointment
Start your search above
Refine Results