A symptom is something that an individual notices.

A sign is something that a doctor or other person observes. I’m writing this series to give readers a glimpse into how common conditions can present uncommonly, in my 30 years of experience as a practicing naturopathic doctor. 

The Case: A Mother’s Intuition

Child is 14 months old. Mother is concerned that her daughter does not look at her. Child does not react to seeing her mother after she has been outside of the home for several hours. Mother has 5 older children and notices big differences in her daughter’s overall style of interaction compared to her other children. She ignores her siblings and the 3 small family dogs.


This mother has consulted with Dr. Google, Dr. Instagram and Dr. TikTok regarding her concerns. However, she did not follow the advice from these sites as her maternal intuition advised her against it.

Signs of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Here is what I observed in the young child:

  • Child is lost in her own world—when playing, she does not look around the room to share the activity with her mother.
  • Repetitive hand mannerisms.
  • Fixates her vision towards the ceiling. 
  • Looks up at the ceiling for no apparent reason (This is concerning because all the action is at her eye level).
  • Repetitive mouth and wrist/hand movements.
  • Opens mouth wide and moves her wrists and hands in repetitive, self-stimulatory manner, especially while watching television.
  • Repetitive play with thread—finds pieces of thread, e.g., on a blanket, and plays with the thread repetitively.
  • Reduced regard for familiar and unfamiliar adults in her environment.
  • Lack of eye contact and does not acknowledge family members.
  • Likes to watch objects spin—drops objects and watches them spin.

To learn more about how repetitive behaviors can look like in ASD, read my article on repetitive play in young children

What to Do Next If You Observe These Signs

If you observe these signs in your young child, I recommend seeking an evaluation from the department of Early Intervention to gain access to services that can benefit the child. Early intervention can include: Special instruction, speech and language therapy, and psychological and occupational therapy.  

Read more about caring for a child with ASD in my article about navigating an ASD diagnosis.

How Naturopathic Medicine Can Help

In addition to a full assessment, diagnosis, and early intervention services, naturopathic medicine can holistically support your child’s healthy development. Naturopathic doctors can support the child’s whole-body functioning, including but not limited to their:

  • Neurological development
  • Digestion and nutrition
  • Mental and emotional wellness
  • Sleep and restorative functions

Using natural remedies, lifestyle modifications, and personalized nutritional recommendations, naturopathic doctors can support children with ASD, no matter the age and co-occurring conditions.

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