What is regressive autism?

What is a speech regression?

Does your engaged and talkative toddler now all of a sudden seem uninterested?

Are they talking much less than they use to or not at all?

Did they have fairly typical development but now just seem different?

About one-quarter of children with autism show this type of developmental or speech regression. It often occurs between 18-24 months. Sometimes the change can be sudden, and sometimes it can be gradual.

What causes a regression?

Regressive autism is currently poorly understood. Some potential theories include “over pruning” in the brain (synapses) as a result of certain genetic factors. But the underlying processes are not well understood, and scientists are working to learn more.

A history of a speech regression or developmental regression does not necessarily mean the toddler has autism. But it does often mean the child would benefit from additional screening or testing.

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What should I do as a parent?

If your child has a speech regression or developmental regression, or if you are concerned about their development, you should seek help. Talk to your pediatrician or if you live in the Colorado area, you can call a specialized healthcare provider like Soar.

For families interested in Soar, we have a team of clinicians available to help now. Our child psychologist specializes in evaluations for autism and is covered by most insurance plans. We also have a multi-disciplinary team that provides integrated therapy for children. Call us at (720) 706-3396 or text us via the chatbot on our website.

If you’re wanting to learn more, you can also take an online screening test for autism here on our website.

Most importantly, there is a wide body of research that shows the importance of early child development and acting early. Acting early makes a difference for kids!

The Signs of Autism

The Biology of Autism (current understanding)

Genetic changes

Atypical brain development and connections

Characteristic features of autism


  • Few or no big smiles
  • Limited or no eye contact


  • Little or no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or facial expressions


  • Little or no babbling
  • Little or no back-and-forth gestures (pointing, showing, reaching, or waving)
  • Little or no response to name


  • Very few or no words


  • Very few or no meaningful two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating)

Have delayed speech and language skills, or lose previously acquired speech

Avoid eye contact and want to be alone

Get upset by minor changes

Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings

Repetitive behaviors (flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles)

Restricted interests

Soar Autism Center

Reach out today