Autistic traits

My baby girl seems to be hitting all her motor skills milestones, but I have some concerns about her social interaction... whether she displays autistic traits?

She does not focus on eyes a lot. You have to be really up close to get her attention and make her look directly into your eyes. I have noticed with my friends' babies of the same age that they are trying to get your attention, cooing and smiling and making all sorts of noises - and getting excited when they see your face. My baby seems so serious and quite often does not look at strangers at all. When she does, it's just for a second and then she looks away. She does track well and can grasp, roll over occasionally, plays on her front for 10 minutes at a time.

She's an extremely good, content and pleasant baby. Sleeps like an angel, very undemanding - seems to have set her own sleep, eat, play, sleep routine and slept through the night from 6 weeks. She doesn't require rocking to sleep, though she's not adverse to it. I can mostly just lay her in the cot. She has a dummy and a blanket she cuddles to her face. She does seem to like being cuddled and held but never reaches out for it.

There are no big smiles for dad when he comes through the door. My niece of the same age did this from 6 weeks old and my son who is now 5 was the same. He was probably very advanced, he seemed to do everything early and was very sociable... cooing at strangers across the supermarket when he was 4 months. Comparing them is 2 different ends of the scale and I think she may just be developing late.

We struggle to get smiles or laughs (only a few laughs) - she has not ever initiated a smile. She had started to babble a tiny bit, but last couple of weeks nothing - perhaps a few raspberry noises. She constantly has her hands in her mouth and only recently seems to have found her hands in front of her face. We have tried some food and she eats well. She grasps a baby biscuit and puts it to her mouth and seems to really enjoy that. She loves the baby chair in the bath and gets excited kicking her legs in that. Her toys do get a bit of attention and joy but not us so much at all.

I think she enjoys watching my son because he is jumping around like mad and being daft. Quite often she seems in a trance and have to wave hands or click fingers in front of her face but I guess they all zone out sometimes. She did have sticky eyes at birth which only properly cleared at 2 months.

She does not respond to her name or any other noise across the room. But she may notice movement far away. If you shout at my niece from across the room, she looks immediately. She had a hearing test at birth but I am going to insist on another next week at her check up.

She does focus and play more with me when I lie her down. Though even peek-a-boo does not get a lot of response. When sat up she will not focus on faces, but only on objects.

In short, she is very sweet, but there just seems to be a lack of social skills, excitement and enjoyment of faces - plus being unresponsive to her name. I'm unsure if I'm paranoid.

Is she just a content, sweet baby? Up until now I thought I was so lucky to have such a chilled baby, but looking back I think I've been making excuses and worrying about the eye contact for a while. I try to play games to encourage some skills but if anyone has any advice to get more interaction I would greatly appreciate it. Medical personnel wouldn't diagnose autism until a much later stage (if that is relevant).

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Autistic signs

You list a number of apparently autistic signs. Keep in mind that comparing any child with a sibling will always reveal huge discrepancies ? both positive and negative. Yet we will still do it. As for your little girl a hearing test can do no harm, and might relieve some of your worries or get your daughter some help if there is a problem with her hearing.

As for autistic signs, you do not say how old your daughter is now. I had one daughter who, for her first 9 months did not interact at all. Then suddenly one day she was off, and although still quite shy is now in a managerial position and about to get married.

Autism is a spectrum, and some would say we are all on the spectrum at some point. The fact that your daughter is not a particularly social baby does not necessarily mean a diagnosis of autism. Have you discussed your thinking with a pediatrician or even your general practitioner? You have only one or two other small children to compare your daughter too. Physicians come across so many more and can also make more objective judgments. More definite autistic signs would include a baby who has not smiled by age 6 months and who does not babble.

Please ask your practitioner as many questions as you like, perhaps even writing them down beforehand. He will understand that as a mother you are naturally concerned about your child.

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