Kids & Company Blog

The Ever-Important 18-Month Milestones and the First Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

This blog is written by guest contributor, Dr. Robin Baweja, a Board-Certified Pediatrician specializing in Children’s Mental Health. As a published author of two highly reviewed books – ‘Shawn’s What If’s’ and ‘Dancing All the Way to Brave’ – she has leveraged her expertise to dive into the toy industry, developing toys designed to support your children’s mental health. For additional product information, please visit

April is World Autism Month, and starts with the United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2nd. May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. As parents, there may be instances where we wonder if our child displays any symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Around the 18-month mark, there are several developmental milestones that parents

typically observe in children. However, it’s also a time when signs of ASD might become more noticeable. Here’s a comparison of typical developmental milestones and indicators for ASD around 18-month mark.

Typical Developmental Milestones at 18-Months:


Your child will start to use a variety of single words to communicate needs and desires. They will point to objects to show interest or ask for them. They will also begin to follow simple instructions or commands. At 18-months, your child should typically have around 10-15 words.

Social Interaction 

Your child will start to sow affection to familiar caregivers. They will engage in simple pretend play, such as feeding a doll or stuffed animal. They will also enjoy being around other children and may attempt to interact with them. However, if your child faces challenges with social engagement, this could be an indicator that concerns many parents.

Gross Motor Skills 

Your child can walk steadily and may begin to run. They can climb stairs with support. They can also throw objects with some coordination.

Fine Motor Skills

 Your child can use a pincer grasp to pick up small objects. They can scribble with a crayon or marker and begin to show interest in self-feeding with developmentally appropriate utensils.

Cognitive Skills 

They show curiosity about objects and how they work. They can point to body parts when named. They are also able to recognize familiar objects and people in pictures.


Let’s now dive into the indicators suggestive of ASD: 

Communication Difficulties 

Your child has limited to no use of words and has difficulty with communication of needs and desires. They usually do not respond to their name when being called. They also have difficulty following simple instructions and commands.

Social Interaction Challenges

Your child will have poor eye contact during social interactions. They will usually lack interest in playing with other children or engaging in social games. They may show unusual expressions of affection toward caregivers. This is one indicator that concerns many parents, especially if your child faces challenges with social engagement.

Repetitive Behaviors 

Your child will engage in repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning, or hand-flapping. They will display intense interest in specific objects or topics to the exclusion of others. They may also demonstrate rigid adherence to routines and rituals.

Sensory Sensitivities  

Your child may show extreme sensitivity to sensory stimuli, such as loud noises, bright lights, or certain textures. They may seek out or avoid sensory experiences in an unusual manner.

Delayed or Atypical Development

Your child will show delays in reaching other developmental milestones. They may display unusual motor mannerisms or coordination difficulties.

It is important to note that not all children who exhibit some of these indicators will be diagnosed with ASD. However, if you notice several of these signs or have concerns about your child’s development, it is advisable to seek evaluation and guidance from a healthcare professional, such as a pediatrician or developmental specialist. Early intervention can make a significant difference in a child, regardless of whether they have ASD or another developmental concern.


About the Author

Dr. Robin Baweja is a Board Certified Pediatrician who specializes in Children’s Mental Health. She is now a published author of two highly reviewed books – ‘Shawn’s What If’s’ and ‘Dancing All the Way to Brave’. She has also leveraged her expertise and dived into the Toy industry where she has developed toys designed to help with your children’s mental health. Please find her at for additional product information. 

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