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Early Signs of Autism

“Why would we need to take this test? We will keep and love our child regardless.”


Kinedu Activity Time June 26, 2018

That was what I asked when it was recommended we get a Quad screen also known as a quadruple marker test. It is a prenatal test to measure the level of four substances in a pregnant woman’s blood: 

Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), 

Human Chronic gonadotropin (HCG,  


Inhibin A 

These four substances are used to evaluate a baby’s risk for conditions such as Down Syndrome or Trisomy or neural tube defects. “So you can prepare yourselves” was the answer the doctor gave me. He counseled us that because I didn’t know my father’s medical history and my husband Crisean carried the sickle cell trait, it was smart to be prepared. So we took the screening and tested positive, high risk for a genetic disorder. We were terrified, confused, and very self-disparaging.  However, we were resolved because we had worked for this baby, and we would accept her as is no matter what and make her the best world we could.

From there, I was identified as a high-risk pregnancy and scheduled for prenatal cell-free DNA screening, targeted weekly ultrasounds, and Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) to test for chromosomal abnormalities or neural tube defects. I was only 16 weeks, just entering my second trimester, and I was petrified.  Paris was already a rainbow baby that Crisean and I made with a lot of tracking and trying. I was constantly being fed the Black maternal mortality rates in the US and a Black woman’s pain tolerance and concerns are dismissed by maternal care. I started questioning my body and my decisions. Was I meant to be a mother? My trash ass body sure didn’t seem to think so. Was I selfishly forcing this? My grandmother birthed eight healthy children, my mother birthed seven.  Why couldn’t my body birth one with all this advanced science? What was wrong with me? I felt betrayed by my body for not having the ability to give my baby a safe space to develop safely.

So I took my butt to therapy because those thoughts are no way for a baby to come into this world. I talked candidly with my husband, with myself, and with my therapist. We took a trip to Japan and visited a Omamori (amulet) booth at the Meiji Shrine to get an Anza (childbirth talisman). We worked through it for the most part (I get little whispers in the back of my mind still). We were prepared to let go of all our baggage to be what was needed for this new little girl no matter what. However, by week 36, all testing had come back negative and Paris’ weekly targeted ultrasounds were coming out negative for any abnormalities.  Despite every high risk including prodromal labor, I had a safe natural squatting birth in the hospital, and our Paris came out so beautiful, attentive, and healthy. So we put our fears, anger, and confusion aside, and we focused on raising our new baby girl just vowing to warn everyone against the horrors of taking a quad screen due to the anxiety and stress it causes for the entire pregnancy.

Paris’ labor

My first slight sign that Paris may be neurodiverse came when she was six months. I was working from home part-time from 12 pm -4 pm. I had mapped out her schedule to where she napped from 12pm -3 pm most days.  Then I would breastfeed and babywear her for the remaining hour of my work while still answering phones (Because moms have to make it happen).  Paris never really babbled. She would cry if uncomfortable or she needed /wanted something, but the melodic, chaotic symphony of babbles most babies perform never happened (It’s actually happening right now).  And everyone just applauded how “good” of a baby she was. I now hate that accolade, “GOOD”.  However, what truly made us start researching and asking questions was an app. Crisean and I aren’t teachers, but we wanted to ensure our daughter had age-appropriate activities to support her brain development. We found an app called Kinedu that mapped out a developmental plan for Paris and gave 5 daily activities for us to do with her. Crisean and I were getting very frustrated.  We thought the app was recommending activities that were too advanced for her age group.  It would suggest activities such as having Paris copy consonant sounds, having Paris pull out and put in toys from and to a box, following me with her eyes when we point to things across the room, scribbling on paper with crayons, and responding to her name spoken in different pitches around the room.  Unfortunately, Paris would only actively participate in maybe two out of those five activities. I honestly attribute my taking such critical note of Paris’ abilities, manners, and milestones to our daily use of Kinedu’s assessments and plans. By 9 months I was concerned and doing my own research. Paris was not responding to her name. She was not following my gestures when I pointed to items.  Paris was signing for milk but would not wave hello or goodbye. Paris was not imitating facial expressions.  Paris was not interested in playing with other children. Paris did not notice when she was hurting herself.

Kinedu Activity Time July 14, 2018

However, we didn’t immediately know those were signs of autism. No one really tells you in-depth the signs and it’s very easy to attribute signs to personality traits if you don’t know them. Here is a list of early signs of autism by age. 

Early signs

Your baby or toddler doesn’t:

  • Make eye contact, such as looking at you when being fed or smiling when being smiled at
  • Respond to his or her name, or to the sound of a familiar voice
  • Follow objects visually or follow your gesture when you point things out
  • Point or wave goodbye, or use other gestures to communicate
  • Make noises to get your attention
  • Initiate or respond to cuddling or reach out to be picked up
  • Imitate your movements and facial expressions
  • Play with other people or share interest and enjoyment
  • Notice or care if you hurt yourself or experience discomfort

Developmental red flags

The following delays warrant an immediate evaluation by your child’s pediatrician:

By 6 months: No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions

By 9 months: No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions

By 12 months: Lack of response to name

By 12 months: No babbling or “baby talk”

By 12 months: No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving

By 16 months: No spoken words

By 24 months: No meaningful two-word phrases that don’t involve imitating or repeating

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Cia

    Thank you for directing me here from Twitter! Very helpful! Paris is so beautiful! The videos are beautiful too! And I agree, I hated that “good baby” thing. I hated the “mean little thing” too when my baby didn’t want to be around certain ppl.

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