(ABC4) – The coronavirus pandemic has proven to be hard on everyone. New parents are being forced to navigate these strange, unpredictable times with fewer resources than would normally be available to them. But what does this mean for their babies?

Experts at Cleveland Clinic have weighed in on the matter and are suggesting that isolation has increased the rates of autism in young children. According to the CDC, about one in 44 children are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. 

“Because of our current situation with the pandemic, this is something that we’re seeing a lot, is that you’re not around as many kids. You’re not out. Parents don’t have as many examples of children to know are they just playing alone because they haven’t had a playmate in two years or are they just not interested in other people because they’re very shy and don’t know a lot of people outside of the family,” said Chiara Graver, behavior analyst for Cleveland Clinic Children’s.

Graver emphasized the wide range of telltale signs of autism in young children, which include being unresponsive to their name, having limited communication habits at 18 months old, and lacking certain social skills such as making eye contact. 

Though there is no cure for autism and researchers are still trying to determine what causes the condition, various treatment options are available and it’s thought to be linked to both genetic and environmental factors. 

Graver recommends speaking directly to your child’s pediatrician if you’re concerned about their behavior. Additionally, she stresses the importance of early intervention.  

“The early developmental period for any child is very critical and with autism, there is a lot of research which suggests that early intervention is key in addressing some of those difficult and challenging behaviors,” she explained.