Worried My 13 Month Old Has Autism

Updated on April 14, 2015
A.Y. asks from Charleston, WV
20 answers

First and foremost, I'm currently awaiting return calls both from my pediatricians office and a nearby Autism center to call me back to set up appointments. In the meantime, I'm driving myself crazy with worry thinking that my son is showing signs.

Here's a little bit about him:

He's always been shy with adults. He will hide his face from them 95% of the time when they approach him. He has done this practically since birth. With kids, though, he follows them and tries to play. I've done my best to keep him out of daycare, but that also means that the majority of his time is spent playing alone, so I'm sure he wishes he had other kids to play with.

He does not respond to his name 90% of the time. One thing about this, though, is that I know he hears me. If he is playing with a toy or watching TV, the only way I can even get him to remotely respond is if I say, "Noah, look what Mommy's got!" and he'll turn around to look. If i just use his name, there's absolutely no acknowledgement at all.

I've never witnessed any imaginative play... so instead of pretending like he's eating something if I give him a bowl and a spoon, he will take the spoon and hit everything. He's always been big on "drumming" on things. Honestly, I'm not sure if I should even be looking at this - it just seems so young....

Next, if you sit in the floor with him while he is playing, he just kind of does his own thing. He doesn't try to involve you at all. It's like he is in his own little world. He doesn't really bring me things to fix, or point things out to me. He just goes about his day like we aren't even there with him.

He also becomes very distraught at sad things he sees on TV and has since he was very young. For instance, when watching Dumbo, he cries when Dumbo gets picked on at the circus.

Lastly, I feel like his speech is a little delayed. He babbles constantly, and will say "dada" and "mama" but never really uses them in the right context. He has also said, "dog", "tickle,tickle,tickle" and "night, night" but never uses the last two in context.

I feel so silly even as I'm writing these. Part of me wants to tell myself just to quit being a hypochondriac, and the other part is scared to death thinking I might be right. Does anyone have any experience with this? I'm just looking for a little peace of mind while I wait on his doctor to call me back.


Thank you all for your responses! You've made me feel a lot better. I just guess it's a mother's instinct to worry. My pediatrician's office just had their "autism specialist" return my call. She looked at his files and told me that she sees nothing concerning; just to write down what he's doing and not doing and bring it to his 15 month check up. I guess it is early - just him not responding to his name gets to me. I am still waiting on a call from the autism center. When they call, I'll be sure to update. Thanks again!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Anchorage on

He is only 13 months old! Nothing you talk about there scream red flag to me. At 13 months he is still a baby, give him some time before you assume he is behind. JMO

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I'm right there with Jennifer T., I don't see anything concerning. My GD has autism so I have been around a baby on the spectrum but nothing you describe sounds worrisome. Most kids play on their own at this age - parallel play instead of playing WITH someone. He's babbling and that's good. That all sounds like it's on track. He sounds like he's a sensitive, independent little guy.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Pittsburgh on

Everything you describe sounds normal. However, I would discontinue the screen time. Zero screen time is the current recommendation for kids less than two years of age.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

My son is on the Spectrum. Nothing you describe raises any red flags to me. Your little guy sounds like a typical 13month old...still a baby, really.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Sounds like a perfectly normal 13 month old. Relax and just enjoy him.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My son's autistic, diagnosed at 4, and his symptoms were very subtle. I don't see anything here that says autism, and I manage a website about autism, have multiple family members on the spectrum, etc.

Please feel free to visit my website - autistikids.com - it has a lot of helpful, non-panic oriented information and resources. Don't be scared to death - the stigma and rhetoric around autism is awful and freaks people out unnecessarily.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Every thing you describe sounds normal. I suggest you learn about child development stages. Just google that and you will find lots of sites or get a book at the library. I urged you to focus on what to expect in a typical baby instead of what may be not right so that you'll have less worry. Your baby feels your anxiety and will respond differently in interactions. We all tend to act the way we're expected to act.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on


13 month old kids do NOT play with other kids. They don't do that until they are 2 or so. Then they do parallel play, playing similar things side by side. Like both playing dolls or cooking or trucks or cars. But they hardly interact with each other. Just side by side. It's not until they are older that they interact and play "with" each other, like I'm the mom and you're the dad and you be the kid. That's just not what a toddler does.


Have you had his hearing checked? He might have hearing loss or gunk left over from a previous ear infection. He could literally have certain sound waves blocked and can't hear them.


He's not old enough to do imaginary play. Not for another year or so. Not to the level you're suggesting.


It's perfectly normal for him to want to play alone. This is also something you're right about too. He should want to play with you if you're right there. BUT if you're there all the time he might just want to do his own thing instead.


The speech sounds normal. We had our grandson evaluated at 20 months and he was delayed. They didn't care or do anything. They don't "officially" do anything until they've had time to grow and speak when they're ready. Our guy started talking a few weeks later.


I do think having your son evaluated will be a good idea, if nothing more than tell you what to work on with him and help you see what is wrong and what is right. Good luck with it all.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

I'm glad to read your update. But, I still want to write some thoughts down here for you.

Without looking it up, I think that hypochondriac is for yourself, but not knowing another word to use for it, I'll use yours. I DO think that you are that way about your child. It's okay to be worried about issues and think about them, but the biggest problem that I think that YOU have is that you don't understand child developement. And that's a real issue here. You will never be able to properly prepare your child for life if you don't know what he is supposed to be doing at the particular stage he is in.

You need to either take parenting classes or you need to study infant and toddler developement. If you don't, you're going to be behind the 8 ball all the time, and you aren't going to be a very good mother. (I know that sounds harsh, but I really mean it. I see mothers on here ask questions and tell us things that they expect out of their children that are so over-the-top that they sound either stupid or cruel. You don't want to be one of these mothers. And you don't have to be...)

Pull yourself together and start LEARNING. You would do WELL to actually observe a quality run daycare and see what your child's age group does over the course of a day. Take notes - not only what children CAN do, but what they can't do. Then spend a day observing the next level up and see what the difference is.

If you are worried about your child's hearing at all, you CAN get him a hearing test and a tympanogram. If he has had any past ear infections, that's a good idea, too. Good hearing is essential for a child to learn language skills. Sometimes when children know the routine, they don't have to "hear well" to do what they are supposed to do. They just know what's coming next.

Another thing that you should study are the different personality types. You can find this regarding children, too. Once you learn about these, then study how parents need to raise kids who are different personality types than themselves. You cannot try to put a square peg into a round hole. Your child is very shy - you cannot make him outgoing by just wishing it so or trying to see him as abnormal because this is the way he is. There ARE ways to help a painfully shy child come out of their shell. But, demanding it won't work. Shaming them into it won't work. Laughing at it won't work. Telling people in front of the the child that he is shy is not a good thing. You need to learn what to do to help your child navigate being around other people. That's why you need some education in this department. When you go to your child's appointment, ASK the ped to help you with this. He or she can give you good resources. Don't just trust everything you read on the internet. The ped will know the good ones.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I think you've got an independent and sensitive little guy on your hands... Nothing that really raises my hackles in regards to autism, and I am the mother of a 12yo with autism. Nothing wrong with having the experts check
him out, but I don't see any red flags...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Obviously you can and should pursue expert consultations if you are this panicked. You should also know that a whole lot of diagnosis of things like autism occurs later on.

Very young children, up until age 3, play in a solitary fashion, also called parallel play. That is, they don't play "together" with another person (child, or in your case, an adult) - they just do their thing next to another individual. They also don't have much of an imagination at age 1 - so yours sounds perfectly normal that he's not doing imaginary/creative play. He's also normal that he likes to bang on things!

Many children do not speak early on. My son was 16 months old before he said his first word. The pediatrician felt that he was doing other things early (like walking) and not talking. He was babbling and he could hear, but he didn't have the need to talk. Either he wasn't there developmentally, or I was anticipating his every need, or both. You may be in the exact same situation with your son. BTW my son is completely normal and verbal, and once he started speaking, he couldn't be stopped. I did nothing in terms of diagnosis or early intervention.

Your child is seeking out the company of other children, so that's a very good sign. You don't want to put him in day care, which is fine. But what are you doing to help him actually learn to socialize? The town library must have a story hour or free play time (ours has story time and puppets and building blocks), there must be a playground at an area school or park, there may be a children's discovery museum or petting zoo within an hour's drive, and so on. There will be children in all of those places. Does your town recreation department, a local church, or a newcomers club sponsor play groups? We did all of the above things, and the play groups rotated from home to home so each family only had to host about every 2 months. You make coffee for the moms/caregivers and have a few snacks for the kiddies, and they play. It also teaches kids (gradually) to share - but again, they will play in a parallel fashion. We went to yard sales and got extra toys to use for just this occasion, and to be sure we had things for various ages beyond our own child's.

Are you going on nature walks or playing in puddles or playing outside with bubbles? Do you roll a ball to him? Take the wooden spoon and the tupperware outside and let him bang away and fill them with dirt and rocks and leaves! Then do all of these things in more public places where there are other people and children.

And if your child is so advanced that he is experiencing feelings and emotions when Dumbo is picked on, he's pretty far ahead in that department. That means he IS developing in many other areas besides speech and interaction with adults. Try not to worry too much - they all do things in a different order, and most of the time, things like autism are not in the mix.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

I think most of what you've described sounds very age appropriate. But I also remember being the mom of young ones and having the same types of concerns. So please don't beat yourself up and call yourself silly. this is your baby!!!!! And you want to make sure you are doing everything you can for your baby.

It's fine that you've called your pediatrician and an Autism Center. Wouldn't you rather call and have them say it's nothing than for there to really be something and you could have done something?

I do have one piece of advise for you. Write everything down. I always joke about how I never wrote in my kids baby books. I always meant to but never found the time. My youngest is special needs. He's in kindergarten now, and we are going through the IEP process. We are also working with an outside agency. Every time I fill out a new parent report i am asked questions about his first couple of years ... right, like I remember that now. I now have a journal just for him, and I write down everything, no matter how insignificant. It keeps it all in one place, and I bring it with me to meetings. I also read through it before going to every meeting, every doctor's appointment, etc. It has been one of the best things I've done for him.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

He is 13 months old. That is really still a baby. Yeah, a baby that is starting to walk and talk, but a baby. I don't think you can expect a baby to do any of the things that you are describing above- especially the parts about playing, and not responding to his name... I can't imagine that a 13 month old could even know what was going on at ALL with Dumbo getting teased on TV? Probably more like he is scared of the sounds and colors than anything else.

My son is 13 months old right now, he doesn't know his name or do any of things you are thinking your kid should do either. I think you're fine. In fact you pretty much described my kid, minus the dumbo part (my son has ZERO interest in TV... I wish he would, I could finally fold some laundry or something). He barrels around holding sticks and bats and balls and getting in everyone's way and that's about it.

Here's just a side story of how I know my kid doesn't know his name (aside from him not responding, which he also doesn't do). We thought he was super smart for saying 'Hi da!" to his dad all the time at a pretty young age. Til we realized he says it to everyone not just dad. Then we realized he is mimicking us when we say "Hi Trev!" to him... so .. yeah... they are learning still.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

One of my was tested for Autism.

A specialist requested it - we didn't agree, and with perseverance we got him seen by ENT and all he needed was tubes.

In your case, I read through your concerns, and I don't pick up anything there .. that couldn't be explained by a typical 13 month old baby. Shyness is not the same as no eye contact, etc. My kids didn't do imaginative play until later.

If speech is delayed at all, usually so is communication skills, response times, the whole works. Speech is a big thing. So if it's a little later in coming, expect the other things to be too.

As for playing with things inappropriately, drumming, etc. is typical.

What I do know is if you LOOK for things, you will find them. So relax, trust your doctor and the specialist, and try not to worry the next 2 months :)

I know we all worry, but mine never turned around if they were playing - too busy mom!

Good luck :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Normal behavior for a 13 month old.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

If he is 13 months old and cries about Dumbo being pick on, then that is one smart cookie. I am not here to say he is or is not autistic, but he sounds wonderful.

You should look up parallel play.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

my kids are 3 and 4 and still do not respond to their names... just a kids thing.
nothing in your post said autism to me, and i did a report on autism for college as well as cared for 3 different children with autism (at different times) as a day care teacher.
i would not worry about it, and do what the specialist said, keep track of what hes doing and bring it to his 15 mo appt.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

My now 5year old daughter was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified), sensory processing disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder, right before her second birthday. From what I know with my own personal experience...nothing you really wrote seemed like typical ASD behaviors.
In retrospect looking back I see so many more red flags that I didn't see right away with my daughter (she didn't point, or ask "whass dat", no babbling, no eye contact...) especially now that I have a neuro typical 18mo old baby...she's doing so many things her older sister never did. I could drive myself crazy thinking about all of it.

However..if YOU...as the mom continue to see things that you may feel aren't typical in the development of your child continue to ask your pediatrician about it. When I initially sought an evaluation for my DD I was told "just wait...she'll talk when she's ready"..."she's not antisocial she's selective"...."she is meticulous not obsessive" I was called everything from "dramatic" to "crazy" but I went with my gut and I was so glad I did because once she was diagnosed I was able to get her all the therapies she needed and now...here we are 4 years later and she's is a social butterfly. She is the most loving, intelligent, generous, patient. Compassionate, artistic , imaginative lil girl....I'm so proud..by next year she will be main streamed,.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

There was a similar question a day or two ago with some good links in it. Bottom line is you need to talk to a specialist if you have concerns, to determine what is normal 1 yr old behavior and what is not. Speech and other motor skills or hearing concerns are very different than Autism. Remember that he is *just* a year old and there is a wide range of normal for early development.

One thing that sounds like it's not Autism to me is that he *does* want to engage with other children. Children with Autism often don't want to play with others. They are more focused on the thing than the person. And remember, toddlers do this parallel pay thing for a while. It's normal.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Sounds fine to me, wait til 18-24 months to really assess.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions