It is important that you, as a parent, closely observe your child, especially during the early stages of his life. Though each child develops differently, knowing your child’s milestones will help you to watch out for red flags that may signal a neurological disorder or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Keeping track of the milestones will also give your doctor a good basis for diagnosis about your child’s health. These milestones, if delayed, will not automatically mean a disorder, however, any loss or lack of skills is a cause for alarm and needs to be brought to your child’s doctor’s attention immediately. Early autism intervention is one of the largest factors in a child with autism’s success and development. Understanding key milestones can prepare parents to watch for delays or lack of progress in their child’s development. 3 to 4 months Looks at faces and objects with interest. Recognizes and reacts to faces and voices. Smiles at just about anyone. Curious and turns had towards sound. 7 Months Can recognize other people’s emotions. Plays hide and seek with objects. Tries to reach objects in hard to reach places. Puts everything in the mouth. Turns head when called by name Babbles. By 12 Months/1 Year Imitates people and sounds. Enjoys games such as “peek-a-boo”. Explores objects on sight. Understands the word “no”. Points at objects. Can say single words. Turns body towards the person who called his name. By 24 Months/2 Years Enjoys being around other children. Understands simple sentences. Points to people and pictures. Can sort shapes and colors. Engages in “make-believe”. Follows some instructions. Can combine two words. By 36 Months/3 Years Displays affection. Can make simple mechanical toys work. Can match objects to pictures, colors and shapes. Can follow 2 to 3 part commands. Can use simple sentences to communicate. Uses pronouns – I, you, me – and plurals – cars, dogs. By 48 Months/4 Years Plays and cooperates with other children. Creative and inventive in “make-believe” play. Can name colors and count. Speaks in five to six word sentences. Can tell stories. Speaks clearly enough for strangers to understand. Follows 3 part commands. Understands “same” and “different”. By 60 Months/5 Years Likes imitating friends. Likes to sing, dance and act. Distinguishes fantasy from reality. Increased independence. Can count to 10 or more. Speaks in sentences of more than five words. Tells longer stories. If your child is not meeting these milestones, it is important to reach out to their doctor as quickly as possible to determine if he or she is at risk for autism spectrum disorder. If your child does receive an ASD diagnosis, it is critical to receive autism training as early as possible to help your child meet their full potential. While there is not cure for ASD, an autism intervention called “Applied Behavior Analysis” has been found to show improvement in nearly 90% of individuals with ASD. Special Learning has introductory and advanced autism trainings and ABA trainings that can help parents navigate the challenges of helping their children become successful.