Flapping arms – head lag – no eye contact. Is it autism or developmental delay?

Understanding infant development to rule out either

You went to visit your friends, and your baby was acting in a way that you have never seen her before.

Now you are worried.

Your 7-month-old baby got excited and started jumping in your arms. Then she suddenly started flapping her little arms. It lasted nearly a minute, but it felt like an eternity for you.

What if your baby is autistic or has developmental delays?

Like most mothers do, you most likely have heard and read about autism.

There is even a chance that you know someone who has a child with autism.

So you kind-of-know what to look for.
But you are not certain.

Naturally, you worry.
Worry that any behavior, movement or lack of it can be a sign of autism or developmental delay.


Autism is a spectrum disorder.

On one end of the spectrum, there are children who behave almost like non-autistic children.

On the other end of the spectrum, some children are not able to learn even basic life skills.
And some can not control their behavior at all.

“Spectrum disorder” also means that not every child has the same symptoms/ signs/ delays/ challenges. Thus the diagnosis is given only to children who present with more than 1-2 signs.

So if your child is flapping their arms but has no other signs, he is most likely not autistic. 

Of course, there is a chance that you are not able to identify the other signs. That is why to be certain educate yourself as much as possible and seek professional help.

Knowing and understanding what the signs of autism and developmental delay is crucial for every mom.


This knowledge will empower you to assess and teach your baby.

It will also assist you to seek medical intervention when necessary and help your baby as soon as possible.

It will help you clarify that not all “weird” movements your baby does are a sign of autism. Some are naturally occurring milestone. And some are signs of developmental delay.

It will guide you to understand the naturally occurring infant movements, behaviors, milestones.

As a guide let’s use the signs and delays of autism.

The most common signs of Autism are:

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