Autism/18 Month Old Son


I have a question about my son and autism. There are a few significant things that are concerning me. He is 18 months old. He doesn't really play with toys. He will kind of fiddles around with them for a minute or so and then move onto something else. He likes to dump things out of a bag and put them back in (legos). We were in the library yesterday and he played with something for a few seconds and then would walk around looking around and then jump in my lap.

He is also very attached to me. He constantly wants to be held and cries when I leave him even to go to the bathroom. He does go to other people but prefers me - which gets exhausting. He has been this way since birth.

The other concern is that he loves zippers. He loves to walk around with a sweatshirt and run his pointer and thumb along the zipper. When he sees a zipper on a jacket he likes to touch it.

He doesn't consistently point with his index finger. Sometimes he will to show me something or point something out and other times he will use his whole hand.

He has never slept through the night in his life. He at least wakes up one time for some milk or just to make sure I am there.

He has met his milestones on time. He loves to cuddle and kiss. He is now starting to use two word phrases - hold it, mommy up, mommy huggie. He has an older sister (3) which he does love to imitate and follow around. He likes to look at other kids but is not yet very social with them. He does say hi to adults and smile at them when we are out and about. He likes to play peekaboo and he does like to read through books. He does bring things to show me and bring me books to read him. He doesn't necessarily sit through the whole book.

He is a very good listener and I could tell him to do something and he will do it (put your shirt in the drawer and close the drawer). He also always responds to his name.

I am not sure if those are red flags that should warrant an evaluation. It has me very concerned.

Your guidance is appreciated.

Hi Stephanie,

I am sorry for the delay is replying; I think your question became lost in cyberspace until it was re-forwarded to me.

With so much in the media these days about autism, it is normal to wonder if your child might be showing some of the signs. We all worry and want the best for our kids.

It is impossible to rule in or out a diagnosis over the internet without meeting the child and spending time together. But, based on only what you have written here, autism is not something that springs to my mind.

You mention a number of positives about your son:

- he has met developmental milestones on time.
- you describe his receptive and expressive language skills as typical for an 18 month old
- he is affectionate with you and will respond to strangers by smiling and looking
- he wants to share things with you
- he correctly follows two step oral directions (this is a real strength for a child of his age)
- he imitates his older sister

The aspects that might be worrying you are:

- his attention span
- his enjoyment in feeling his zipper
- his attachment to you

From the descriptions you provided, I am not sure that his attention span is unusual for a boy of his age.

May kids with autism either seek out or avoid certain things to touch. I think that is what yo fear about your son's enjoyment of zippers. This alone would not yield a diagnosis, but it is worth noting how frequently he engages in this action, how long it lasts each time, and how he responds when he is interrupted when rubbing his zipper.

Here is a link to a website that explains to parents some of the signs of autism:

This next link provides comparison videos of kids of various ages. There will be a video showing a child with autism, and a video showing a child of the same age who does not have autism.

But no, based on what you have written, I do not think you need to worry about your son having an autism spectrum disorder.


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Dr. Sharon A. Mitchell


Sharon can help with parenting and educational concerns. She has worked in teaching, special education, counseling and consulting for over thirty years and gives workshops to educators and parents on working with kids with autism spectrum disorders. Sharon speaks from both the education and parent points of view, having an adult son with Asperger's.


Sharon has spent decades as a special education consultant with a school district and autism consult for the province's Department of Education, giving workshops and individual consults. Currently she works as regional autism consultant for a health district in between teaching university classes. She is an Amazon bestselling author or a series of novels, each depicting a child who has an autism spectrum disorder. Sharon's Master's thesis looked at the long-term outlook for persons with high functioning autism and Asperger's. Her Doctorate focused on strategies to help those with autism spectrum disorders.

Website at and sits on Autism Today's Panel of Experts (

Author of "Autism Goes to School" - a novel about autism that that became an Amazon bestseller. Get this Amazon bestseller free at In the next book, Autism Runs Away, Ethan is only in grade one and already has been kicked out of one school due to his tantrums and pattern of running away when in a panic. Now in a new school his mom remains glued to her phone, waiting for the call to tell her that they don’t know what to do with a child who has autism. Sara is about to learn if this new school is up to the challenge. ( Autism Belongs is the 3rd book. Manny's life has shrank to the confines of their house. His parents are desperate not to rock his world because the aggression has gotten to much worse. Where will this lead? Is there a chance that Manny could actually belong out in the world? You bet! Get a free sample at Book four, Autism Talks and Talks, is about a 12 year old girl who has Asperger's. She's bright, inquisitive, highly verbal, but lacks social skills. Try a free sample at Book five, Autism Grows Up features Suzie, a bright, twenty-one year old whose life collapsed after she finished high school. Now, she lives in her mother's basement, spending nights on her computer, afraid to broach the world outside their door. Autism Grows Up is found at Prefer a boxed set? Get the first 3 books bundled together at Co-author of bestseller, The Official Autism 101 Manual (

B.A. in Psychology, B.Ed. in Special Education, M.A. in Educational Leadership PhD. in Psychology Management, specializing in autism.

Awards and Honors
B.R.A.G. Medallion for the novel Autism Goes to School - Book 1 in the School Daze Series. ( Like Autism Goes to School, the third book in the series, Autism Belongs, also ranked #1 on Amazon ( Manny is not like other children. He doesn’t talk. He doesn’t leave the house. His parents desperately try to arrange their world so that Manny does not get upset. Because, when he does, well, the aggression was getting worse. At ten, Manny was becoming difficult to handle.

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