A lot of people ask me, “How did you know?” in response to my saying I knew–in a nonofficial and not as serious sense– my son had autism before we ever saw a doctor.
There’s a lot as to why and how really, though my Mommy Intuition has a lot to do with it… Moms just know when something is going on with their babies sometimes.
But there are tools to help. Professionals are supposed to use the M-CHAT at well check-up appointments between 12-24 months. If your doctor has not done the M-CHAT with you, you can see/score it here. The M-CHAT is a set of development questions, but not all of the questions are equal– certain questions more clearly distinguish that your child can be at risk for autism. Pay attention to the scoring if you do it yourself.
Another screening tool that a lot of Moms use is from childbrain.com titled “PDD Assess” linked to here. This one is a bit more involved, but it was a great indicator for my understanding of our son before he went to his evaluation– his score on this test is generally around 110, indicating just Moderate PDD, which is just about right (though our son is mild in a lot of ways). If you take this test about your child, make sure you read the directions on how to score it. It can get confusing if you do not use the directions, and what you think is severe may not be… or vise versa actually.
If you take one of these screening tests, be honest with yourself and about your child, but do not freak at the results. These are tests that can indicate your child is at risk or has a likelihood of diagnosis for autism or another of the pervasive development disorders, but they are not psychologists, developmental pediatricians or neurologists… those are the professionals who diagnose, treat and work with these disorders on a regular basis. Find a professional you trust and get your child into their care.