Symptoms of Autism

The symptoms of autism are usually easily identified between four and six years old. By this time parents should be able to recognize whether their child has consistently met developmental milestones or if they are delayed.

The diagnosis of autism is a clinical judgment based on observed symptoms, behaviors and characteristics. The observations of family members, teachers, and caregivers are important to this diagnosis. A pediatrician can do simple tests to determine if further evaluation is necessary using a test similar to the Autism Screening Questionnaire . A pediatrician will refer your child to a development disorder specialist if they feel further evaluation is warranted.

There are three core areas of development addressed in the diagnosis of autism. Typically impairment is significant in all three areas for a positive diagnosis of autism: social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and the presence of repetitive and restricted patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. The symptoms of autism of autism for each area are listed below.

1. Impaired social interaction

• Poor use of body language and nonverbal communication
• Little or no eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures
• Lack of awareness of feelings of others
• Expression of emotions, such as pleasure (laughing) or distress (crying), for reasons not apparent to others
• Remaining aloof, preferring to be alone
• Difficulty interacting with other people and failure to make peer friendships
• May not want to cuddle or be cuddled
• Lack of or abnormal social play
• Tantrums – expresses aggressive or self-injurious behavior
• Not responding to verbal cues (acting as if deaf)

2. Impaired communication

• Developmental delay in, or lack of speech
• Abnormal speech content and quality
• Difficulty expressing needs and wants, verbally and/or nonverbally
• Repeating words or phrases back
• Inability to initiate or sustain conversation
• Unresponsive to normal teaching methods
• Absent or poorly developed imaginary play
• No real fear of danger

3. Restricted or repetitive patterns of interests, behaviors, and activities

• Insisting on following routines and sameness, resisting change
• Ritualistic or compulsive behaviors
• Sustained odd play
• Repetitive body movements (hand flapping, rocking) and/or abnormal posture (toe walking)
• Preoccupation with parts of objects or a fascination with repetitive movement (spinning wheels, turning on and off lights)
• Narrow, restricted interests (dates/calendars, numbers, weather, maps)
• Noticeable physical over activity or under activity
• Uneven gross and fine motor skills are well developed in some areas and poorly developed in other areas

Every person with autism is an individual, and like all individuals, has a unique personality and combination of characteristics. People with autism process and respond to information in unique ways.

Autism is a condition surrounded by myth and generalizations about autistic people. Contrary to popular belief, many autistic children do make eye contact; it just may be less or different from a non-autistic child. Many children with autism can develop good functional language and others can develop some type of communication skills, such as sign language or use of pictures. Children do not "outgrow" the disability but the symptoms of autism may lessen as the child develops and receives treatment.

Just as every person is unique, with his or her own personality and characteristics, every person with autism is affected by the disability in his or her unique way.

Go on to symptoms of autism for other ages

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