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Autism/Lack of gestures at 12 months old


Dear Sharon,
My baby boy will turn 12 months tomorrow. He does not point, wave bye bye, show toys, or copy gestures at this point. The only gesture that he CAN do is clap, but not his own hands, but mine If I start clapping, he will grab my hands and clap them along. He also can lift hands to indicate that he wants to be picked up. He can copy sounds and babbling, and is engaged in vocal turn taking.
My boy is somewhat delayed in expressive language, as he is still babbling without meaning. Lots of dadada, tatata, bababa, anana, and words like Agihi, gegi, agehi, but I don't think he has attached meaning yet.

As for receptive language, he responds to his name consistently. The only other verbal command that gets him going every time is "Kris, Look at xxx". He understands the verb "look at" 100% of the time. He can follow a point very well, and if I show him a toy, he will go and grab it. I believe that he understands "Kris, touch the flowers", as he always touches them, but I don't know if this one is a fluke and he would touch them even without the command. He rarely gives me a toy if I ask and I open my hands(maybe 2-3 times total), and he sometimes just turns to the other side, or pushes my hands away when I ask him to give. Understanding mama, dada, the doggie, ball, toy Bingo are a hit or miss.

Do you mind letting me know whether the above points towards autism? I had him evaluated by SLP but she said he is not on the spectrum. I wonder if we were dismissed too fast

Hi Julieta,

I'm please to hear that you have already been in touch with an SLP. Most llikely, your SLP has seen a number of children who are on the autism spectrum and, comparing your son to them, she is not noticing similar characteristics.

It is not possible to be definitive about whether or not a 12 month old has autism. But it is never too early to take a proactive approach, which you have already done by having an SLP evaluation.

If you look at this link, you will find some of the red flags that might signal the possibility of autism in very young children:

This next link talks about some of the typical milestones language-wise that children go through from birth to their first birthday: If you scroll farther down the page, you will find some suggestions on how you might help in your son's language development.

There are many reasons for a child to have a language delay; autism is only one of the many possibilities. I would suggest that you keep in touch with your SLP over the next six months to a year. If you continue to have concerns, talk to your doctor as well.

Best wishes,


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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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