Learn and Teach · Accept and Connect · Love

Early Educators: Red Flags & Supportive Action for Autism

Autism Awareness begins this year at Teddy Bear American Nursery with teachers!! It is an Ealy Years teacher’s obligation to alert parents of any red flags they see and support the child and family through the diagnostic and treatment process. Autism surfaces at an early age when the child is exposed to play, communication and interaction opportunities. This is why it was important to discuss signs to look out for and actions that teachers can take when working with young children.

What are the things Early Educators can look out for in order to alert parents for further assessment?

For Ages 12-18 months:

  • Not Babbling: Not making the sounds that babies usually make before they start to form words.
  • Not Pointing: To ask for things or to get the attention of adults.
  • Not sharing enjoyment with caregivers: Does not bring objects to show or does not look at caregiver to share what they are doing.
  • Poor Eye contact and Social Affect: Does not show interest in interacting with caregivers, but shows more interest in objects. Does not respond to name.
  • Poor play skills: Has an interest in FEW toys and plays with them in the same repetitive manner.
  • No imitation: of actions or sounds.
  • No Joint attention: Does not follow adult’s finger to look at what adult is showing.

From 18-24 months:
All the above and additionally:

  • No two-word spoken phrases
  • Any loss of skills, words or social connections

As an Early educator if you notice some of the above Red Flags in any of your students, what should you do? Set up more observations and make specific notes. If you continue to be concerned after taking notes, then it is time to share these concerns with the parents and suggest further assessment. This is quite a difficult task. Here are some tips:

  • Be Sensitive to what they may be ready to hear. Try and give only the amount of information they may be ready for. Too much information may be overwhelming. Try to begin by asking how they think their child is developing. You may even use a basic developmental checklist, in order to open some pathways for discussion. Use your notes to talk about your concerns.
  • Recognize the value of their opinion and input in the discussion. Offer information you may have and let them know that they know their child better. Give them time to talk about how they feel. Always keep in mind that they are the final decision makers about their child.
  • Be genuine and show you care: Be very aware of your tone of voice and body language. Let them know you are having this conversation in order to be helpful for the child and NOT to point out the deficits or label them in any way. Offer to help in every way you can during the process.
  • Do not engage in any sort of diagnostic conversations or indicate any label. Redirect all such questions by saying: “I am certain a professional will be able to answer those questions, I am not equipped to answer them. I am only taking this first step to indicate a possible need for assessment”
  • It is of utmost importance to explain why they should NOT “Wait & See”: Explain the advantage of Early Intervention in reaching the child’s full potential & the disadvantage of delay in specific treatment for a probable medical condition.


Early Signs 

Red Flags



Speak Your Mind