Our Son’s Autism Red Flags

Wished more people talked about autism

I am writing this because I think this would be helpful to parents who are starting to suspect their child has autism or just for anyone’s knowledge so they can help identify if their friends and family members may be on the spectrum. Most parents, myself included had no idea about autism until someone pointed it out. I wish I knew more people who talked about autism from when our son was little so I could pin point his red flags to autism vs just thinking he’s a “difficult baby”, “problematic child” etc..

To make it easier, I’m going to just list them down. Starting from my pregnancy up till his diagnosis at 2 years old. This would be an expansion to my earlier article Very Early Autism Signs below 1 year old.


– my pregnancy was pretty OK, no major complications 

– he was REALLY active in the womb

– I had morning sickness till 5 months pregnant (but not severe to the point of vomitting blood etc. Mainly a lot of gas, nausea and heartburn) 

– 7 months to few months after birth, I had nose swelling and triggered nose allergies. I have a history of allergic rhinitis since young and the swelling nose plus it was hayfever season that time made it worst. I did take antihistamines while pregnant

– 10 months pregnant. Feet swelled, couldn’t walk much for a month, was breathless and had back pain

Pregnancy seemed normal


– Was induced at 40 weeks

– Had complications as my sons head was too big and my pelvic bone did not open big enough which led to an emergency c-section after 19 hours of labour

– FYI there are some research that links greater risk of autism to a c-section birth


– I found out I had Pneumonia 5 days after birth due to severe breathlessness and had to be admitted to hospital. Separated with my newborn for 4 days. – Docs are unsure if I caught it at the hospital or before giving birth since I did have “allergies” and “breathlessness” 

Ok now back to our son. 

Nurse and confinement lady remarked peculiar behaviors

Newborn to 6 months old

– Came out very curious. Looking around the world with suspicious eyes (probably overwhelmed by the sensory input?). I would consider this the first red flag because I’ve not see a newborn baby with such great “look of anxiety and worry” on their face

– 2 days post birth, hospital nurse complained that my 2 day old baby is very fierce and refuse to let her change his diaper or bathe him

– 5 days post birth, my confinement lady said he’s very strong and determined because he actually stood up in the bathtub (while she was holding him around the belly) trying to avoid the water

– 3 weeks post birth, colic started and would wake up 5 times a night especially the 4am waking was particularly tough to put back to sleep

– colic remained till 4 months old 

– generally cranky baby, cried a lot but laughed a lot as well

– cranky in the evenings around 6pm onwards

– no issues with bath time with the exception of that first few days

– extremely difficult to put to bed, needed to be rocked in my arms for a good 30mins to 1 hour before he slept

– eventually he got big and hard to rock so my mom (who helped take care during that time) used YouTube nursery rhymes to make him sleepy. We became heavily reliant on YouTube as his “calming” device since.

– light sleeper (sound sensitivity noted)

– does not want to wear hats, sunglasses or be swaddled

6 months to 1 year old

– generally a happy baby and laughed a lot 

– started sleeping through the night

– weaned off breast milk at 6 months old since I started working again

– started solids early at 5.5 months

– ate almost anything we gave him but would refuse to touch food

– baby led weaning failed as he wouldn’t hold finger food

– only ate purées and soft food

– started throwing things off his high chair, food, plates, spoons, toys, books

– unable to get him to play with cutlery while eating. Was spoon fed

– played with select toys (cause and effect toys)

– obsessed with holding shapes and holding/looking at flash cards (now we knew this was early stimming signs)

– said mama, dada, circle and turtle 

– started walking independently at 11 months

– used walker from 9 – 10 months old

– crawling phase didn’t really happen. On rare times he crawled he had problem coordinating both his legs resulting in lop sided crawl

– was difficult bringing him for a long distance road trip as he didn’t want to sit in car seat for long

– ok with anyone carrying him

– was able to mimic me sticking tongue out or clapping hands

Stimming behaviors became more apparent

1 year old to 18 months

– self weaned pacifier

– played very independently, didn’t request to play with us

– still wouldn’t hold food or cutlery

– walked really fast, started running

– started toe-walking around 1 years old (this is a common autism symptom)

– slept through the night

– obsessed with circles and alphabets became apparent. Would stop and look at large circles or alphabet in shopping malls

– loved going to malls and sitting in his stroller or walking around malls (but we didn’t bring him to crowded malls anyway since he’s still young)

– delay in picking up new words but he did pick up a few more words 

– did not wave or point

– seemed very stubborn. It was so prominent that I documented a post for this wondering if this is mere Defiance or an Autism sign.

– does not imitate sounds, words, hand gestures or our daily activities

– love flipping through books

18 months to 2 years (this was when we started getting worried)

– noticeably regressed, unable to clap hands when we tell him to

– lost all words he learnt

– did learn a few new words but lost them after a week or so

– no eye contact at all

– doesn’t respond to name

– started playing with fingers ALL DAY LONG (stimming). My post on Stimming Behaviors here for those who’d like to know more – it’s definitely not something to be stopped.

– other stimming behaviours noted – head shaking, tensing, hand flapping, spinning, vocal stims

– still doesn’t want to feed self or touch food

– Very resistant to new types of food, stuck to the usual food everyday

– lost interest in some food he used to like such as bananas, apple purée etc

– appeared irritable in shopping malls

– whined all day long

– aggressiveness started, pulled my hair, hit us when upset, hit self on tummy, banged head on walls, floors and tables

– would not touch unfamiliar textures like grass, sand, play doh etc

– does not allow face or head to be touched and still can’t wear anything on head and face

– does not like cuffs of clothing touching wrist and ankles

– could not participate in playgroups at all, he was very obviously the odd one out

– does not follow instructions

– lost interest in all toys

– scared of other kids

– doesn’t like people and crowded places

– doesn’t like playgrounds or play gyms but love to swing (sensory seeking)

– still able to dine at restaurants with us

– still sleeping through the night 95% of the time

– unable to cut hair

– unable to brush teeth

– unable to suck straw

– unable to blow candles or bubbles

2 to 3 years old (Post diagnosis)

– developed sleep issues (STTN dropped to 50% and developed night wakings and difficulty falling asleep) 

– unable to go to restaurants at all, started eloping from the place. I dedicated a post on our Autism Dining Experience.

– unable to go to crowded shopping malls

– developed some sensory seeking behaviours (touching textures like wood, metal)

– strong interest in looking at lights, reflection and shadows

– goes through various stimming phases – started putting things in mouth including own fingers for a month

–  started climbing a lot 

– loved water but not hair washing

Autism is a spectrum disorder

Before I end, just want to say that  autism is a spectrum disorder so just because your child does or does not have the symptoms stated above doesn’t mean he or she is or isn’t autistic. Trust your gut feel, do your own research and consult with your paed if you notice any red flags. The sooner the better! 

Hope this post was useful 🙂

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Creating Awareness in Autism to Embrace Neuro-Diversity. Mom of a Neuro-Divergent.

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