Current DateNovember 22, 2021

Symptoms of autism in children

Signs of autism for children 0-6 months

The symptoms of autism fall into three categories: social interaction disorders, communication disorders, and other manifestations.

Social interaction disorders

  • Disinterest in people (lack of contact).
  • Do not show a response to their first name.
  • Intolerance to physical contact: dislikes being carried or hugged, this can trigger crying or recoil.
  • Impression of indifference to the outside world; seem thoughtful and insensitive to their immediate environment.
  • Little reaction to separation.
  • Lack of happy reactions to the arrival of parents
  • Absence or weak joint attention: this is the ability to share an event with others, to attract and maintain attention to an object or a person in order to obtain a common and joint observation. Pointing is an example of joint attention. Joint attention is linked to the phenomenon of theory of mind.
  • Difficult to maintain their attention, difficult to capture their gaze.

Verbal and non-verbal communication disorders

  • Lack of anticipatory gesture: do not stretch out their arms when you go to pick them up, do not spontaneously put their arms up to catch up in the event of a fall.
  • No imitation in gestural communication.

Other events

  • Heightened sensitivity to changes in the environment: changing the place of objects or furniture in the room, introducing a new toy, changing the route to go to the park.
  • Paradoxical reaction to noise: barely react to a loud noise right next to them or overly sensitive to barely audible noises.

Signs of autism for children 12 to 24 months

The symptoms of autism in children fall into three categories: social interaction disorders, communication disorders, and repetitive or stereotypical behaviors

Social interaction disorders

  • Disinterest in people (lack of contact).
  • Do not show a response to their first name.
  • Intolerance to physical contact: dislikes being carried or hugged, this can trigger crying or recoil.
  • Impression of indifference to the outside world: seem thoughtful and insensitive to their immediate environment
  • Little reaction to separation
  • Lack of happy reactions to the arrival of parents.
  • Absence or weak joint attention: this is the ability to share an event with others, to attract and maintain attention to an object or a person in order to obtain a common and joint observation. Pointing is an example of joint attention. Joint attention is linked to the phenomenon of theory of mind.
  • Difficult to maintain their attention, difficult to capture their gaze.

Verbal and non-verbal communication disorders

  • Absence or delay of language (no words, sentences) except in the case of autistic people without intellectual disability who can develop language at the normal stage for a child or even early. Children with Asperger’s syndrome can have a sustained level of speech from an early age
  • Difficulties in receptive and expressive communication
  • Lack of imitation
  • Limited language, without attempting to communicate by mimicry or gesture.

Repetitive and restricted behaviors

  • Strange handling of objects: spinning them, aligning them, sniffing them.
  • Unusual movements of the body: swings, rapid flapping of the hands.

Signs of autism for children over 24 months

The symptoms of autism fall into three categories: social interaction disorders, communication disorders, and repetitive or stereotypical behaviors.

Social interaction disorders

  • Lack of interest in other children or seem fearful and/or awkward to come into contact with them. It may sound like shyness or social awkwardness
  • Lack of interest in games, especially make-believe games.
  • Difficulty inventing or completing a story or representing the feelings and emotions of the characters.

Verbal and non-verbal communication disorders

  • Speech the purpose of which is not to communicate or exchange: this can take the form of monologues or the monopolization of conversation.
  • Tendency of the child to repeat what is said to them (echolalia).
  • Unusual way of speaking, for example: flat, arrhythmic, shrill or singing voice, monotonous tone, little or no variation in voice.
  • Pronominal inversion (“you” instead of “I”).

Repetitive and restricted behaviors.

  • Persistent focus on certain parts an object: for example, spinning a toy car wheel instead of playing with it.
  • Unusual attachment to objects, the child can be greatly destabilized if it is removed.
  • Insistence on carrying out routine acts strictly and in detail: taking the same route to get to the park or school, doing different actions always in the same order before going to bed, always lining up toys in the same way. If the ritual cannot be accomplished, this generally leads to a significant change in behavior (sadness, anger, silence…).
  • Unusual sadness in the face of even minimal change in the environment: changing the place of furniture in the bedroom, meeting a new person, new clothes, etc.
  • The child uses the other people’s hand to grab things.

The signs of autism can vary depending on the form of autism (Asperger’s syndrome, atypical autism, Rett syndrome, etc.) and therefore manifest in different ways in different children.

This list of characteristics helps guide the gaze of parents who might wonder if their child may be affected by autism. If a child does have a significant number of these symptoms, seeing a doctor who specializes in autism is the first step towards diagnosis.