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This article is evidence-based, verified by Dr. Ahmed Zayed.
When your child is growing, there are certain milestones that you expect them to reach. Babbling, or “learning to talk,” is one of these milestones. But do autistic babies also babble?
Autistic babies often start babbling late or don’t babble at all. Autistic children usually experience delayed development of communication skills, and if your baby hasn’t started babbling by 9 or 10 months old, it’s time to book an appointment with a development specialist.
Do you want to know more about why autistic babies don’t babble? Do you want to know what to do if your baby hasn’t started making sounds yet? Read on to find the answers to these questions and more.
Autism in Babies
It’s easy to miss the signs of autism in a baby, especially for first-time parents. These inexperienced guardians aren’t as familiar with the landmarks that their child should be passing and can overlook the disorder’s subtle signals.
Some children also typically develop until they reach two or three years of age. At that point, autistic children can even regress and lose the knowledge they seemingly had the day before. Language is one of these skills to be lost. A child may learn all languages at a reasonable rate until a certain point when the abilities will vanish.
Most signs of autism are easier to recognize in older children. In particular, girls are usually not diagnosed until the age of four or later, thanks to a lack of apparent symptoms.
Usually, parents who spot symptoms of autism in their babies are proactive, reading articles like this one to educate themselves. After reading this subject matter, you’ll have a beginning grasp of what to look for in your growing child.
Normal Baby Milestones
For the first years of your child’s life, there are critical developmental milestones you should watch out for. The following are some of the main language markers that should be reached:
6 – 8 Weeks
After your baby has been home from the hospital for about two months, they should start to make sounds other than crying. Cooing is the first sound your baby should make. It is a gentle “ooh” or “aah” sound often accompanied by a spit bubble.
At this time, your child should begin laughing. The giggling can be in response to something in their surroundings or simply from a grabbing at their own toes.
6 – 9 Months
At this point, your infant should be babbling. These repetitive sounds are often confused for a child’s first word with their back-to-back syllables like “dadada” and “mamama.” A delayed babble can be one of the earliest signs of autism.
6 – 11 Months
Your child should understand what you mean when you say “no.” An autistic child might not respond to “no” for months longer than expected.
10 – 15 Months
This time frame is when to expect your child’s actual first word- not the misinterpreted babble from before. A child with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) might reach some of the earlier missed milestones at this point, or they might never reach them.
Signs of Autism in Babies
Often the signs of ASD in infants have less to do with an odd action and more to do with a lack of normal action. The following actions represent some of the most common signs of autism in children under two years old. If your child doesn’t do the following, speak to your family doctor:
- Wave goodbye
- Use hand movements to communicate
- Enjoy cuddling or ask to be held
- Know his or her name
- Make eye contact
- Play with other children or share toys easily
- Comfort another person if they get injured
- Babble, copy faces or reflect movements of other people
Why Don’t Autistic Babies Babble?
While we don’t know the exact reason why autistic babies don’t babble, it’s closely related to a general developmental disorder. A delay in babbling usually signifies a delay in other maturation, or adversely, a delay in other growth causes a delay in babbling.
Studies have shown that “canonical babbling” is a significant predictor of a child’s overall development. Most babies will begin to babble by nine months old. Any child that doesn’t babble until ten months or later almost always has a language impediment or other learning disability.
Some autistic babies do babble at six months old and only show signs of autism later. Other infants with ASD don’t babble at first but end up reaching the milestone by the age of one.
What to Do if Your Baby Isn’t Babbling
The first thing you should do if you suspect your child isn’t reaching their necessary breakthroughs is to speak with your pediatrician. While your doctor will likely reassure you that nothing is wrong, it’s up to you to continue to push for your child’s health.
You should also look into meeting with a developmental therapist. A DT is a professional who works with developmentally disabled and delayed individuals. Not only can they provide you with excellent resources, but they can help recognize the symptoms of autism early on.
While it’s rare to get an official diagnosis of ASD before two years of age, research increasingly supports the early treatment of those who show the signs of autism. Speak with your doctor to discuss your choices.
If My Baby Isn’t Babbling, Are They Autistic?
While autistic babies often don’t babble, babies who don’t babble aren’t guaranteed to be autistic.
As pediatrician Perri Klass, M.D. wrote in the New York Times, “If a baby isn’t babbling normally, something may be interrupting what should be a critical chain: not enough words being said to the baby, a problem preventing the baby from hearing what’s said, or from processing those words. Something wrong in the home, in the hearing, or perhaps in the brain.”
A lack of nonsensical sounds from your child can be a sign of autism, but it can also be a sign of poor hearing, a lack of speech within the home, or not enough positive encouragement for the child’s sounds.
Ideally, you’ll book in for an appointment with your child’s doctor, who can direct you through the recommended tests to determine the cause of the speech delay.
Preparing for a Life With an Autistic Child
The idea of having an autistic shouldn’t scare you. According to the CDC, 1 in 54 children has been diagnosed with ASD. This number is quite high and has been rising in recent years, but that’s a good thing. The more children with autism, the more money and research will go into the support of those with the condition.
One of the best things you can do as the parent of an autistic child is to invest in an insurance plan that will support your child. Applied Behavior Analysis treatment (ABA) is a powerful tool in your caregiver’s arsenal. These therapeutic and corrective treatments can make a massive difference in your child’s life, both as they develop and once they are adults.
Some of the best health insurance options for autism include coverage for ABA, which can cost upwards of USD 120 per hour. Investing in coverage that can lessen the financial burden means you can spend more time with your child doing things that truly matter.
It’s often found that autistic babies don’t babble, or at least don’t start babbling until later in their development. A baby who isn’t babbling doesn’t always have autism, but it is usually a sign of a developmental or language disorder. If your baby isn’t babbling by nine months old, you should schedule a visit with your pediatrician to check on your infant’s current mental growth.
Dr. Ahmed Zayed, MD, holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. An avid contributor to the Huffington Post and Chicago Tribune, Dr. Zayed believes in providing accurate and accessible information to general readers. With years of writing and editing content in the medical niche, Dr. Zayed likes to think of himself as a man with a mission, keeping the internet free of false medical information.
- Autism Speaks: What are the Symptoms of Autism
- Science Daily: Age at autism diagnosis differs between boys, girls
- Healthline Parenthood: Baby Language Milestones
- Autism Speaks: What is Autism
- HelpGuide: Does my Child Have Autism
- NCBI: Vocal patterns in infants with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Canonical babbling status and vocalization frequency
- HealthGrades: Developmental Therapist: Your Expert in Developmental Challenges & Delays
- NYT: Understanding ‘Ba Ba Ba’ as a Key to Development
- CDC: Data and Statistics on ASD