Signs and Symptoms of Autism in Children

October 31, 2023

Most parents are aware of the developmental milestones that their children should be hitting as they grow. However, sometimes these milestones are not reached, or are only partially reached, and this can be a sign that something is not quite right. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social skills, communication, and behavior. Here are some signs and symptoms of autism in children that parents should be aware of.

One of the earliest signs of autism is a delay in speech and language development. A child with autism may not start speaking until much later than other children their age, or they may only use single words or brief phrases. Even when they are speaking, their language may be unusual or difficult to understand. They may also have trouble with back-and-forth conversation, and struggle to understand jokes or sarcasm.

Another sign of autism is difficulty with social skills. A child with autism may not make eye contact, or they may avoid physical contact altogether. They may also seem uninterested in other people, preferring to play alone instead of interacting with others. When they do interact with others, they may have trouble reading nonverbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions. This can make it difficult for them to understand the emotions of others.

Children with autism may also display repetitive or restrictive behaviors. This can include interests in very specific topics, repetitive movements or mannerisms, or insistence on following rigid routines. These behaviors can often be soothing for children with autism, helping them to feel more comfortable in an otherwise overwhelming world.

If you notice any of these signs and symptoms in your child, it’s important to consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional. They can perform an evaluation to determine whether or not your child has autism. Early diagnosis and intervention is critical for children with autism, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you’re concerned about your child’s development.

What is Autism?

​Autism is a condition that affects people in different ways. Some people with autism are very independent and live relatively normal lives. Others may need more support and assistance. Autism is a spectrum condition, which means that there is a wide range of symptoms and severity.

Most people with autism have difficulty with social interaction and communication. They may find it hard to understand and respond to other people’s emotions. They may also find it hard to start or keep a conversation going.

Some people with autism have repetitive behaviors. They may go through the same motions over and over, or say the same phrase over and over. They may also become very focused on certain interests or activities.

Most people with autism also have sensory processing difficulties. This means that they may be oversensitive to certain sounds, tastes, smells, textures, or lights. They may also find it hard to cope with change.

Symptoms of autism typically start before the age of three.
Diagnosis can be difficult, as there is no single ‘autism test’. A diagnosis is usually made after an assessment by a team of healthcare professionals.

There is no ‘cure’ for autism, but there are a range of interventions and support that can help people with the condition to live happy and fulfilling lives.

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Early Warning Signs and Symptoms of Autism

​Most parents are aware of the early warning signs and symptoms of autism. However, many don’t know that there are actually many different types of autism, and that autism can be diagnosed as early as 18 months old. The most common early warning signs and symptoms of autism are:

Delayed speech and language development: A child with autism may be late to start talking, and may use single words or short phrases instead of full sentences. They may also have difficulty understanding what other people are saying.

Repetitive behaviors: A child with autism may engage in repetitive behaviors such as rocking, spinning, or hand flapping. They may also be fixated on certain objects or activities and become very upset if their routine is disrupted.

Poor eye contact: A child with autism may avoid eye contact or have difficulty making eye contact. They may also appear to be looking through you instead of at you.

Social deficits: A child with autism may have difficulty relating to others and may seem indifference to social cues. They may also prefer to be alone and may not seek comfort from others when they are upset.

Sensory processing issues: A child with autism may be oversensitive or undersensitive to certain stimuli such as sound, touch, or smell. They may also have difficulty adjusting to changes in their environment.

If you notice any of these early warning signs and symptoms of autism in your child, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible. Early intervention is critical for children with autism and can make a tremendous difference in their development and quality of life.

Diagnosis of Autism in Children

​Most parents of children with autism have a sense that something is different about their child well before any formal diagnosis is made. Many parents report concerns with their child’s development in the first few months or years of life, but it can be difficult to get a diagnosis during early childhood.

There are standardized assessments used to diagnose Autism such as the Child Autism Rating Scales and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule.  These assessments along with the written diagnosis from your pediatrician, child psychologist or neurologist are sufficient to get services approve with your insurance carrier.

Most children with autism display at least some of the following signs:

Delayed speech and language skills
Repetitive use of words and phrases
Unusual tone of voice
Difficulty with back-and-forth conversations
avoidance of eye contact
fixations on parts of objects
repetitive body movements
inflexible thinking

These symptoms can vary greatly in severity. Some children with autism are minimally verbal, while others speak in full sentences. Some children with autism have only mild social deficits, while others do not make any attempt to connect with other people.

A diagnosis of autism is typically made by a team of specialists who observe the child and administer a series of tests. While there is no cure for autism, early diagnosis and intervention can make a big difference in the child’s ability to function and thrive.


At My Favorite Therapists, our highly skilled team of BCBAs, RBTs, behavioral therapists, and specialty therapists communicate and work together to increase your child’s success, independence, and functioning in daily life at home, at school, and in the community. For more information and to address all your child’s needs please contact us to schedule an appointment


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