A 3-year-old boy with autism symptoms
Autism symptoms can be seen in some children as early as the first months of their lives. Some children do not show symptoms until they are two years old. Mild symptoms may not be obvious and can sometimes be confused with shyness or “terrible twos”.
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These signs may be present in children as young as three years old
- Social skills
- Doesn’t respond to the name
- avoids eye contact
- Prefers to play alone than with others
- Doesn’t share with other people, even with guidance
Doesn’t know how to turn?
- Isn’t interested to interact or socialize with others
- Avoids or doesn’t like physical contact with others
- Isn’t interested in making friends or don’t know how
- Doesn’t make facial expressions, or makes inappropriate expressions
They are difficult to soothe or comfort.
- Has difficulty communicating or talking about their feelings
- Has difficulty understanding the feelings of others.
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Communication and language skills
- Having difficulty speaking and writing (falling behind peers).
- Repeating the same words or phrases over and again
- doesn’t answer questions appropriately
- Repeat what others have said
- Doesn’t point at people or objects, or responds to pointing
- Reverses pronouns (says, “you” instead “I”)
- Rarely or never use gestures or body language (e.g. waving).
- Talks in a flat voice or sing-song style
Does not use pretend play (make-believe)
- Does not understand jokes, sarcasm or teasing
- Behaving in an irregular manner
- Performs repetitive movements (flaps hands and rocks back-and-forth, spins).
- Line toys and other objects in an orderly fashion
- Small changes to daily routines can cause frustration and anger.
- Every time, toys are played with the same way
Has odd routines and is upset when they are not allowed to be followed (e.g., always wanting to shut doors).
Likes specific parts of objects (often spinning or wheels)
- Obsessive interests
- Hyperactivity or a short attention span
- Autism signs that could be a sign of the disease
- Has impulsivity
- Has aggression
- Self-injures (punching and scratching)
- has persistent, severe temper tantrums
- Has an irregular response to sounds, smells and tastes.
- Observes irregular sleeping and eating habits
Shows fearlessness or greater fear than is expected
While any of these symptoms or signs may be normal, having multiple of them, especially if you have language delay, should cause more concern.
Signs for boys vs. signs for girls
Autism symptoms are almost identical for boys and girls. Autism is more common in boys than in girls. This means that the classic signs and symptoms of autism are often misunderstood.
Excessive interest in trains, trucks and other dinosaur trivia, for example, is often very obvious. If a girl doesn’t like trains, trucks or dinosaurs, she might exhibit less obvious behaviors such as arranging dolls or dressing them in a certain way.
Girls who are highly functioning also tend to be more able to mimic average social behavior. Girls may have more social skills than boys, which could make impairments less obvious.