The range and severity of symptoms in autism spectrum disorder can vary widely. However, there are common symptoms, such as difficulty with communication, obsessive interests, and repetitive behaviors.
Distinctions in Social Behavior
Deficits in social behavior is one very common symptom of autism. These defects often take the form of reduced eye contact, reduced showing of objects, reduced pointing, reduced following a speaker’s line of gaze, and other issues. As children with autism grow older, other social abnormalities, such as reductions in reciprocal social interaction and difficulty identifying and interpreting others’ emotions, often become apparent.
Identifying autism early, ideally before 18 months, can make a difference. But being able to catch autism early, means understanding autism and being able to identify early signs. Parents should keep an eye on when their child hits key social, emotional, and cognitive milestones. Developmental delays could indicate a heightened risk for autism.
Identifying Deficiency in Communication Skills in Young Children
Regression of communication skills is a serious warning sign. Children may start to develop communication skill, and then regress. This usually occurs between 12 and 24 months. Children who started to speak may stop entirely. Children who started playing social games, such as peek-a-boo, patty cake, or waving goodbye may stop doing so.
Infants with autism spectrum disorder won’t exhibit normal behaviors, such as responding to cuddling, reaching out to be picked up, or looking at their mothers when being fed. Early signs also include babies and toddlers who don’t smile when they are smiled at, don’t respond to their names or familiar voices, don’t follow objects visually or a gesture when someone points things out, don’t imitate movements and facial expressions, don’t play with other people, and don’t ask for help or make other basic requests.
Determining Autism in Older Children
In older children, red flags get more diverse but they still typically revolve around impaired social skills, speech and language difficulties, nonverbal communication difficulties, and inflexible behavior. Older children will appear disinterested in what’s going on around them; will have difficulty playing or making friends; will prefer not to be touched or held; won’t play pretend games, imitate others, or use toys in creative ways; and will seem aloof and detached from others.
Behaviors that may indicate autism is the repetition of the same actions or movements over and over again, which is known as self-stimulatory behaviors. Examples of these behaviors include hand flapping, rocking back and forth, snapping fingers, spinning objects, repeating words or noises, and watching moving objects.