Symptoms of Autism

Most signs of autism in children start becoming evident around two to six years of age though some symptoms are present even earlier. A child may be autistic if:

  • By 12 months, the child does no coo or point
  • By 16 months, the child does not say single words
  • By 2 years, the child does not have two or more words in his vocabulary
  • There is a marked lack of social skills and language development by the time the child is two

Other Symptoms of Autism in Children are:

  • Avoids eye contact
  • Lack of facial expressions
  • Lacks responsiveness
  • Prefers to be alone
  • Tends to retreat into his 'own' world
  • Over or under sensitive to pain
  • No sense of danger or fear
  • Absence of speech
  • Cannot express what he needs or may use gestures instead to words to convey his demands
  • Copies words and phrases that are spoken to him
  • Does not understand how to use words in speech
  • Cannot start or maintain a conversation
  • Strange use of language or babbling
  • Deeply attached to objects
  • Repetitive spinning of self or objects
  • Flapping of hands or rocking
  • Repetitive play over long periods of time
  • Does not like change
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Does not like crowds
  • Laughs at inappropriate situations
  • Throws tantrums for no reason
  • Frequently angry or aggressive
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of concentration
  • May be a fussy eater or an over eater
  • Does not like to be touched or cuddled
  • Insistent that certain routines and tasks are to be performed in a particular order only
  • Difficulty in interacting with other children and adults
  • Failure to develop relationships with his own peer group
  • Does not seek out friends and social interactions
  • Does not recognize other's emotions
  • Indulges in harmful behavior to the self such as biting or banging heads when upset
  • May also suffer from medical problems such as headaches, bed wetting, excessive sweating, seizures, anxiety attacks, and muscle spasms
  • May suffer from symptoms of ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder as well
  • A small number of autistic cases exhibit some form of savant skills. These could include drawing, musical talent, memorizing, calculating, and so on.

If any of the above symptoms are pervasive or severe, it is important to see a doctor at the earliest. In addition to this, it is highly recommended to consult with a psychologist or a speech therapist as well, as they are trained to specifically diagnose and treat autism spectrum disorders. It would be helpful to keep a diary and checklist of all the symptoms noticed so that an accurate diagnosis is reached.

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Children With Disabilities. Technical report: the pediatrician's role in the diagnosis and management of autistic spectrum disorder in children. Pediatrics. 2001;107(5) . Available at:
  2. Scott M. Myers, Chris Plauché Johnson the Council on Children With Disabilities Management of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders Pediatrics 2007 120: 1162-1182.