My sister-in-law keeps suggesting my eight-month-old son might be autistic (which feels inappropriate and annoying to me), but do I need to be looking for signs? He does some things that are “red flags” (I guess? twirls his hands and shakes his head back and forth and isn’t crawling yet) but otherwise seems perfectly happy, social, and smiley. Should I worry? I find myself overanalyzing his milestones now, and I was never the overthinking kind of person and it’s bothering me.
—Triggered by my in-laws
This is extremely inappropriate and annoying.
In thinking about socioemotional developmental milestones, at nine months the CDC suggests most babies can:
- Show several facial expressions (happy, sad, angry, surprised)
- Look when you call their name
- React when you leave (reaching for you, crying)
- Smile or laugh when playing peek-a-boo
Physical milestones include sitting and moving things between hands (the CDC does not any longer consider crawling an important milestone, since not all babies do it).
Your baby is close to this age (although a month is a long time in baby-land), so this is a list that’s worth keeping an eye on if you’re concerned. If you are either worried or far off these milestones, checking in with your doctor at the nine-month visit is always a good idea. But I think your biggest problem here is your sister-in-law, not your baby.
To that, I think this is a place for boundaries (even if your child is autistic, this applies). I strongly advise you to come up with some closing language to use if she brings it up again. “Thanks for your concern, but we aren’t worried and I’d like to move off this topic.” Or “Thanks for your concern, but his doctor isn’t worried, so we are not.” I can think of some less polite things, too. Don’t let this person get in your head!