Signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Updated: Jun 28, 2019
As a parent, it can be scary to wonder if your child has a problem. Sometimes it will be easier to simply ignore the signs, brush off niggling thoughts, and attribute them to other causes. However, in regards to Autism Spectrum Disorder, it is important to catch it early. Treatment can reduce the disorder's effect and support your child as they learn, grow, and thrive.
So what should I look for? How do I know if I should be concerned? What is the difference between normal developmental delay and disordered delay?
Depending on where your child is at in their development, there will be different signs. If your child fits the below, speak with your doctor or give us a call for an initial screening appointment.
By end of 12 months
Does not pay attention to or frightened of new faces
Does not smile, does not follow moving object with eyes
Does not babble, laugh and has difficulty bringing objects to the mouth
Has no words
Does not turn head to locate sounds and appears not to respond to loud noises
Does not push down on legs when feet placed on a firm surface
Does not show affection to primary caregiver, dislikes being cuddled
Does not crawl, cannot stand when supported
Does not use gestures such as waving or pointing
By 24 months
Cannot walk by 18 months or walks only on his toes, cannot push a wheeled toy
Does not speak; does not imitate actions, cannot follow simple instructions
Does not appear to know the function of common household object such as a telephone by 15 months
By 36 months
Very limited speech, does not use short phrases, has difficulty in understanding simple instructions
Has little interest in other children, has difficulty separating from mother or primary care-giver
Difficulty in manipulating small objects
Has little interest in ‘make-believe’ play
Frequently falls, has difficulty with stairs
Social communication flags
The child generally does not point to or share observations or experiences with others
The child tends not to look directly at other people in a social way. This is sometimes referred to as a lack of eye contact
There may be an absence of speech, or unusual speech patterns such as repeating words and phrases (echolalia), failure to use ‘I’, ‘me’, and ‘you’, or reversal of these pronouns
Unusual responses to other people. A child may show no desire to be cuddled, have a strong preference for familiar people and may appear to treat people as objects rather than a source of comfort
The child may appear to avoid social situations, preferring to be alone
There is limited development of play activities, particularly imaginative play
There may be constant crying or there may be an unusual absence of crying
The child often has marked repetitive movements, such as hand-shaking or flapping, prolonged rocking or spinning of objects
Many children develop an obsessive interest in certain toys or objects while ignoring other things
The child may have extreme resistance to change in routines and/or their environment
The child may be resistant to solid foods or may not accept a variety of foods in their diet
There are often difficulties with toilet training
The child may have sleeping problems
The child may be extremely distressed by certain noises and/or busy public places such as shopping centres
Issues with conversation, perhaps dominating conversations with their favourite topic and not knowing how to take turns.
Not being able to interpret the non-verbal communication of peers and adults.
Unusual speech patterns, a monotonous tone or an old fashioned way of talking.
Seeking solitude, and finding being with others very stressful and exhausting
Being rigid in following rules at school and in sport and games
Finding it hard to read social cues and the unwritten rules of friendship
Having unusual interests and obsessions, no breadth of interests
Sometimes there are unusual physical movements, such as touching, biting, rocking or finger flicking
Having sensory issues, either heightened or lack of sense of smell, touch, taste, sound and vision
Need to follow routines to feel secure, become very upset when expected routines change
Having few or no real friends
Aggression is sometimes seen, usually as a way of avoiding overwhelming situations
Anxiety is also common, especially as children enter the teenager years
Difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling
Trouble interpreting facial expressions, body language, or social cues
Difficulty regulating emotion
Inflection that does not reflect feelings
Difficulty maintaining the natural give-and-take of a conversation; prone to monologues
Strict daily routines, outbursts when changes occur
Deep knowledge of one particular topic
Relationships can be difficult
Adapting to the workplace can be a challenge
They find they are not comfortable in social situations, some people learn to adapt while for others it can be very isolating.
If your child is on the autism spectrum, the sooner they receive a diagnosis the sooner you can start providing them with the support and understanding they need to reach their full potential. While autism is usually diagnosed in childhood, increasing numbers of adults are finding out that they too are on the spectrum. It’s not uncommon for a parent, having had a child diagnosed with autism, to recognise traits of Autism in themselves.
The decision to seek a diagnosis as an adult is an individual one, with some people happy to remain self-diagnosed. However, if you believe that autism is negatively affecting your life, work and relationships, a formal diagnosis may lead to you receiving more emotional and financial support.
If you would like more information regarding our assessment process or to book an appointment, don't hesitate to contact us through the website or by phone.