In my work, and from my studies I have learnt that very young children may present with autism-like characteristics. But just because your newborn or baby doesn’t make faces or respond to their name doesn’t mean they are autistic or anywhere on the neurodiverse spectrum (ADHD, PDA, etc.). Whilst ‘normal’ milestones are typically celebrated in society, sometimes children might be ‘behind’ in their development for many reasons.

If you’re feeling worried, these inclusive strategies are broad enough to facilitate a love of learning and therefore possibly growth in development for many young children, not just for those that are autistic or neurodiverse.

  • Create a strong relationship with your baby by getting down at their level and engaging in simple playful interactions that keep playtime short. Often autistic children seem to like observing the world around them and looking around if they’re not the talkative kind, going around in a garden, park, etc., and telling your baby about the trees, flowers, etc., in simple language might work.
  • Going to a playgroup instead of long day care to build social skills might be what’s needed. Long day care in my own experience is exactly that – long, as well as for many children, so often young children feel more comfortable, relaxed, calm, and happy when they’re with their primary caregivers i.e., their parents or whoever is typically looking after them. Sometimes shorter play-based experiences are needed for babies that get overwhelmed, anxious, tired, etc., so going to an hour and a half- or two-hour playgroup might work. Of course, it’s okay if you go to a playgroup and then need to leave earlier too. Maybe the best thing about going to a playgroup is often they are completely free or nearly free i.e., low cost.
  • If you are worried about your child’s development whether they are a newborn, a year old, nearly a toddler, or a new toddler then it’s a good idea to talk to a trusted person about it. In the beginning, it might be a friend or a playgroup mum or another parent you confide in, but sometimes it’s beneficial to get the opinion of a doctor, occupational therapist, psychologist, or another professional, for example, an early childhood teacher. These professionals understand and know child development and if their training allows, they can complete assessments and provide advice on the next steps.

What are your personal strategies to help your little one be more social?

Resources for further reading:



– Suzanna Poredos

A List Socialite

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