Signs of Autism

Red Flags of ASD in Toddlers

from Autism Navigator

Social Communication

  • Limited use of gestures such as giving, showing, waving, clapping, pointing, or nodding their head
  • Delayed speech or no social babbling/chatting
  • Makes odd sounds or has an unusual tone of voice
  • Difficulty using eye contact, gestures, and sounds or words all at the same time
  • Little or no pretending or imitating of other people
  • Stopped using words that they used to say
  • Uses another person’s hand as a tool (e.g., putting parent’s hand on a jar for them to open the lid)

Social Interaction

  • Does not look right at people or hard to get them to look at you
  • Does not share warm, joyful expressions
  • Does not respond when someone calls their name
  • Does not draw your attention to things or show you things they’re interested in
  • Does not share enjoyment or interests with others

Repetitive Behaviors & Restricted Interests

  • Unusual ways of moving their hands, fingers, or whole body
  • Develops rituals such as lining objects up or repeating things over and over
  • Very focused on or attached to unusual kinds of objects such as strips of cloth, wooden spoons, rocks, vents, or doorstops
  • Excessive interest in particular objects, actions, or activities that interferes with social interaction
  • Unusual sensory interests such as sniffing objects or looking out of the corner of their eye
  • Over- or under-reaction to certain sounds, textures, or other sensory input


1) There is a new screening tool for toddlers (no cost):


Smart Early Screening for Autism and Communication Disorders (Smart ESAC)
How can you screen for a communication delay in a child who can’t talk yet?
  • Infants and toddlers can be screened for skills that develop before children learn to talk, such as gestures, sounds, and actions with objects used in play.
  • The Smart Early Screening for Autism and Communication Disorders (Smart ESAC) is a new online screening tool designed as a universal screen based on parent report for children 9 to 18 months of age.
  • You will view a brief video before screening that explains the Smart ESAC and our Parent Portal.
All families screened with the Smart ESAC will have access to your child’s results and much more on the Parent Portal.
  • Free access to the Social Communication Growth Charts.
  • Screening reports & invitations to rescreen every 3-6 months.
  • Links to resources in our Seamless Path for Families tailored to screening results.
  • Monthly online check-ins to monitor next steps for your child.
  • Invite your doctor or other service providers to view your portal to help build your care team to support you and your child.
  • If your child’s screening result shows a risk for autism, you will be invited to Autism Navigator courses and tools.
The Smart Early Screening for Autism and Communication Disorders (Smart ESAC) can be found at (NOTE, this is NOT the Ontario First Words)
This screening tool is free to use.  The tool is for children 9 to 18 months regardless if they have any words or not. 
If your child is between 9 and 18 months, First Words Project invite you to participate in their research and have your child screened with the Smart ESAC tool.  

2) If you have private health care insurance, check to see if it covers a psychologist.  You may want to book privately.  Check our Info & Resources page under Private Psychologists & Therapists.  

3) If your child is over 18 months: Autism Speaks - Autism Spectrum Disorders Video Glossary is an innovative web-based tool designed to help parents and professionals learn more about the early red flags and diagnostic features of autism spectrum disorders (ASD).


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