Common Signs of Autism

Recognizing autistic behavior early can make a huge difference in your child’s life. It can help your child get the right support they need to grow, learn, and flourish.

What is Autism?

Also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Autism is a developmental disability that expresses itself through a spectrum of signs and severities. It can present itself as a combination of symptoms and affects every child differently. Some display mild impairments and some deal with life-impairing symptoms. However, everyone on the autism spectrum experiences problems in the following:

-Effective Communication
-Socializing with the world around them
-Critical thinking

The causes of autism remain unclear to date. Medical professionals have varying opinions. However, it is unanimously agreed that the best way to tackle autism is early medical intervention.

According to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 54 American children today display autistic behaviors. The symptoms observed in children are often similar to autism symptoms in adults.

Autism Symptoms in Babies and toddlers

Influenced by a combination of environmental and genetic factors, autistic symptoms often appear in infancy. Early diagnoses can help improve the quality of your child’s life. Studies suggest that intensive treatment of autistic infants may completely reverse the symptoms and rewire the brain.

Autistic infants often show an absence of typical infant behaviors. They appear calm, undemanding, quiet, and independent. These symptoms are often dismissed as signs of a ‘mature, good baby’. Therefore, it is very important to go for autism screening if your child behaves differently from other infants their age.

The following can be considered as early signs of autism if your babies and toddlers don’t:

-Make eye contact
-Recognize familiar sounds and smiles
-Respond to their name being called
-Understand gestures
-Wave goodbyes
-Cry to get attention
-Cuddle or respond to physical touch
-Socialize with kids their age
-Copy your expressions and movements
-Speaking disabilities

If any of these are observed, you should consider having your child screened for autism. Kids’ Health Alliance offers autism screenings to children in the Ocala, Dunnellon, and Silver Springs areas.

Autism Symptoms in Children and Adolescents

Autism symptoms in children and adolescents mainly revolve around impaired communication and social skills. They also display repetitive and restricted behaviors.

Autistic Signs of Social Difficulties

Autistic children lack social abilities. They often live detached from others and enjoy being alone. They have a world of their own and see things from a different perspective.

The following are commonly reported social symptoms of autism. Your child may have autism if he/she:

-Experiences a hard time making friends or socializing
-Dislikes physical touch
-Is unable to process and express feelings
-Acts very disconnected to their surroundings
-Is unresponsive to calls, smiles, and other friendly gestures
-Does not take part in group activities
-Cannot imitate actions and expressions
-Prefers to be alone even in a crowded room

Sometimes, children display these characteristics due to disturbed moods. It is important to know that kids on the autism spectrum will show consistent patterns of these signs and symptoms. Your child is not moody! Watch out for these signs and contact your Pediatrician if your child exhibits them on a continuous basis.

Autistic Signs of Communication Difficulties

Communication can be verbal and non-verbal. Kids on the autism spectrum have trouble with both. The following are commonly reported symptoms relating to verbal communication:

-Repetition of words when speaking
-Repetition of a question instead of answering it
-Needs time to process statements, directions, and questions
-Adds an odd rhythm or pitch to their voice when speaking
-Talks very little or starts talking later than other children his or her age

On the contrary, autistic signs of non-verbal communication include:

-Hard time understanding body language
-Unresponsiveness to expressions and gestures
-Misuse of expressions and gestures
-Clumsy and odd ways of moving
-Undesired reactions to sights, smells, and noises

These signs may sometimes be misinterpreted as a child being ‘slow” or “unintelligent’. Please recognize that your child’s unusual behavior is not their fault.

Autistic Signs of Repetitive Restricted Behaviors

Autism symptoms in adolescents especially include repetitively restricted behaviors. This may be perceived as inflexibility.

The following signs call for immediate autism screening if observed.

-Rigid schedule and ways of doing things. (such as obsessively using the same chair, plate, and bowl everyday)
-Unusually hard time dealing with changes.
-Obsession with certain symbols or numbers or topics
-Staring at the same objects over and over again for long periods of time
-Flapping hands repetitively
-Rocking and stimming for comfort
-Flickering lights on and off
-Persistent scratching
-Banging head consistently
-Touching same objects again and again
-Arranging things in a line obsessively

Repetitive behaviors may also point towards Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in children.

What can you do for your child?

Parents can actively observe their children and look out for developmental red flags. It is important to know that not every autistic child will have the same symptoms. In many cases, people with autism only lack a certain developmental ability and excel in others. There are autistic people with excellent communication and socializing skills but poor flexibility. Thus, recognizing autism requires vigilance. We recommend making a symptom log of your own or using autism symptoms checklists.

You can find an autism checklist for parents on our website at

Specialized Treatment at Kids’ Health Alliance Ocala

At Kids’ Health Alliance, our qualified Medical Professionals help parents identify common signs of Autism and develop a course of treatment that will help your child develop and flourish. In addition to autism treatment, we offer other mental health support programs. We use a combination of therapies and specialized medical guidance for positive outcomes in children with mental health illnesses. You can learn more about us at

We hope our guide on ‘Common Signs of Autism’ came in handy!

Johnson, C.P. Early Clinical Characteristics of Children with Autism. In: Gupta, V.B. ed: Autistic Spectrum Disorders in Children. New York: Marcel Dekker, Inc., 2004:85-123.

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