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Every child is expected to reach certain growth milestones and learn new skills. A delay in learning or reaching age appropriate milestones can be indicative of developmental delays and some underlying problems. It has been found that in many cases a child not responding to his or her own name is a sign of such a developmental delay.

Children are ideally expected to respond to their names at an early age of 8 to 10 months. Children who do not respond to their name or other simple instructions may be a sign of having autism.

A child not responding to his/her name finds it challenging to be a part of the social setup and May also have other communication delays as well. When we are trying to get attention of someone we call them by name, responding to name is therefore a vital part of interpersonal communication in the social and academic life of a child.

The good thing is parents can use this indicator to get the child checked by an expert and get the benefit of early intervention.
“Lack of awareness and information hampers the proper development of the children and this affects their academic and social lives, parents should observe how a child is learning and responding to things,” says Meera M 


A child diagnosed on time has higher chances of being helped through the challenges posed by ASD. A delay in identifying the problems faced by the children only makes it more difficult for them to cope and grow.

Here are a few things to consider.


  1. Parents can try to teach children to respond to their names through various methods such as the use of reinforcers: children tend to respond more to their names when they have the feelings that there is a reward; so pair yourself with effective reinforcers when calling your child. Teach them receptive skills; Receptive skills are one’s ability to understand what is said to him/her, most children on the spectrum require receptive skills to enable them respond to their names. Teach them social skills: the more children with autism are giving the needed social skills appropriate for their age the more they’d respond to their names and also be consistent or maintain a fixed daily routine in calling his/her name.
  2. Teaching in a distraction free space is recommended to get better response.
  3. The child should find the method interesting and fun and it should be repeated often at shorter intervals.
  4. Rewarding system should be used to encourage the child.
  5. Make it clear that the aim of the activity is to learn to respond to name.
  6. Involve siblings in the learning process to make it more effective.
  7. Observe the severity of lack of response to name. Some children may respond at times while others may not respond at all.
  8. Once the child learns to respond in isolation, some distractions should be introduced during sessions.
  9. Practice by calling the child’s name while he or she is busy in some other activities.
  • Seek the help of experts to assess the child’s developmental pace.

“It is important for parents to recognize the speech and communication difficulties faced by the child. If they notice something, they must get it assessed and diagnosed at the earliest”, says Subhashini Rao, Founder, Sankalp Special School, Chennai


Autism has many other signs and symptoms and failing to respond to name is not the only indicator. It could also be due to other problems such as language or communication delays. While in some cases, a child responding well to name can still be on the spectrum. However, the assessment of response to name may be useful in the early identification of autism spectrum disorder -ASD.

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