What are the Symptoms of Autism?

Updated at: Dec 15, 2012
What are the Symptoms of Autism?

Signs and symptoms of autism start from the early infancy. The symptoms can considerably vary in two children and therefore present different presentation.

Dr Poonam Sachdev
Other DiseasesWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Sep 26, 2011

As the symptoms of autism can vary considerably two children with the same diagnosis can have noticeably different presentation, symptoms and strikingly different abilities and skills. Like some children with severe autism may be unable to speak at all or interact with other people whereas are some may have rich vocabularies and can talk about some specific subjects in great detail (but more as monologue and not as a conversation with others).

The signs and symptoms of autism usually start in early infancy (12-18 months) but most children are diagnosed with this behavioural developmental disorder, by the time they start preschool or school. Some children may have normal development in the first few months or years of life and then unexpectedly may become withdrawn, aggressive or lose their language skills.

Although every child with autism may have a different presentation and unique pattern of behaviour, some of the common autism symptoms include:


Impaired Reciprocal Social Interaction


Children with autism have problems or difficulty with social interactions like;

  • Difficulty or problem with non-verbal communication such as through hand gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions.
  • Difficulty in making friends with peers .
  • Remains aloof and prefers to play alone.
  • Does not share experiences or emotions with other people (such as parents, family, caregiver). For instancethey will not tell about achievements or talk about his interests.Early-developing social skill plays an important part in language and social development.
  • Does not seem to care about others feelings rather seems to be unaware of others feelings and the expression of emotions, such as pleasure (laughing) or distress (crying).
  • Does not like to cuddle or be cuddled.
  • Does not respond to verbal cues.


Impaired Communication


Autism affects communication and the child may show communication problems such as;

  • Delay or total lack of spoken language or speech.
  • Some children who talk may have rich vocabularies and can talk about some specific subjects in great detail, but may fail to understand meaning of simple words and sentences.
  • May have difficulty in using the words correctly and forming sentences while communicating/talking with other people.
  • May say sentences or words with no meaning or that are out of context in conversations with others.
  • May speak in a monotonous tone devoid of any expression, or high-pitched or singsong voice.
  • May repeat the sentence or word that he hears (known as echolalia) but may not understand the meaning and how to use them.
  • Has difficulty expressing needs and desires both verbally and nonverbally (such as through hand gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions).
  • Can’t start a conversation or cannot keep one going.
  • Unable to play make-believe or doesn't try to mimic behaviour of adults when playing.


Restricted repertoire of interests, behaviors, and activities


These children have pattern of repetitive behavior with narrow, restricted interests and behavioral problems such as;

  • May show interest in certain objects or specific topics with an abnormal intensity or focus.
  • Does repetitive movements, such as rocking, spinning, or hand-flapping and/or abnormal posture (toe walking).
  • Insists on following routines and samenessand does not like changes in routines or rituals becomes disturbed at the slightest change in them.
  • Sustained odd way of playing.
  • Obsession with parts of objects or interested in repetitive movement (spinning wheels, turning on and off lights).
  • Stubborn and has bad temper tantrums.

Several other features and behaviours may be noted in a person with autism, such as-


Cognitive Function


If a child has autism it does not mean that the intelligence quotient (IQ) is going to be low because autism can occur at all intelligence levels. Most children (75%) with autism have below average IQ, but about 25% have average or above average intelligence and some autistic individuals can have extraordinary intelligence in a specific area such as mathematics. The performance IQ tends to be better than the verbal IQ.


Neurologic Function


About 25% to 35% of children can develop seizures which can be difficult to treat. Autistic children with mental retardation or with a family history of autism are at higher risk of developing seizures.

Children with Asperger syndrome (AS) (another disorder in the autism spectrum group) also have impairment in language and communication skills, repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavioural problems like children with autism. With maturity some autistic children with less severe problems can show improvement and lead normal or almost-normal lives. But many children continue to have difficulty with language or social skills, and the behavioural problem may worsen.


Read more articles on Autism




All possible measures have been taken to ensure accuracy, reliability, timeliness and authenticity of the information; however Onlymyhealth.com does not take any liability for the same. Using any information provided by the website is solely at the viewers’ discretion. In case of any medical exigencies/ persistent health issues, we advise you to seek a qualified medical practitioner before putting to use any advice/tips given by our team or any third party in form of answers/comments on the above mentioned website.

This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK