The severity of autism symptoms
varies greatly. This cannot be emphasized enough. Some people have severe symptoms, while others are highly functioning. However, all people with autism have some core symptoms in the areas of social interaction and relationships, verbal and nonverbal communication. Autism is treatable. There is no “cure“ and children do not “outgrow“ it, but studies show that early diagnosis and treatment leads to greatly improved outcomes.
Autism symptoms and signs to watch for:
Delay in spoken language. In some severe cases of autism (as many as 40 percent,) the person never learns to speak.
Repetitive use of language; repeating a sentence or phrase over and over.
Problems starting a conversation.
Little or no eye contact.
Fixation on objects
Hand-flapping, body rocking or twirling of objects. They may flap their hands to tell you they’re happy, or twirl objects to calm themselves down.
Difficulty understanding perspective in a conversation. An example of this is that a person with autism may not understand when a person is using humor in a conversation, but will take what’s said word for word.
Fixed stare or gaze; problems developing nonverbal communication skills such as facial expressions and body posture.
An unusual focus on objects. Young children may focus on the wheels of a toy car, rather than playing with the entire car itself. Older children are often fascinated with video games or trading cards, etc.
There is a need for sameness and routines. A child with autism may become very upset if their routine is interrupted. They may do things such as insist on always eating bread before salad, or driving the same way to school and become enraged in any variation.
Failure to establish friendships with children the same age.
Lack of sharing enjoyment or achievements with others.
Lack of empathy. Having difficulty understanding another’s pain or sorrow.
Toddlers may not like to be held or touched.
Puberty may be an especially difficult time for children with autism. Patterns of behavior may change. Some teens may gain skills, but others may still lag behind in their ability to relate to others. Teenagers with autism are at an increased risk for developing problems with depression, anxiety and epilepsy.