Signs + Symptoms

There are many signs of Autism. Some more noticeable and expressive than others.

Social Communication and Interaction Skills

 

Social communication and interaction skills can be challenging for people with ASD.

Examples of social communication and social interaction characteristics related to ASD can include:

  • Avoids or does not keep eye contact

  • Does not respond to name by 9 months of age

  • Does not show facial expressions like happy, sad, angry, and surprised by 9 months of age

  • Does not play simple interactive games like pat-a-cake by 12 months of age

  • Uses few or no gestures by 12 months of age (e.g., does not wave goodbye)

  • Does not share interests with others (e.g., shows you an object that he or she likes by 15 months of age)

  • Does not point or look at what you point to by 18 months of age

  • Does not notice when others are hurt or sad by 24 months of age

  • Does not pretend in play (e.g., does not pretend to “feed” a doll by 30 months of age)

  • Shows little interest in peers

  • Has trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about own feelings at 36 months of age or older

  • Does not play games with turn taking by 60 months of age

Signs of autism in babies

 

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder, which means that signs become apparent as a child does not develop as expected, for example developing speech or learning to crawl later than expected.

As such, there are few signs of autism that are noticeable in newborns. However, if a baby fails to reach the developmental milestones expected at two months old, four months old, six months old, nine months old and a year old, this could be one of the first signs of autism or another developmental condition.

Good to know: Not all babies reach developmental milestones at the exact same time. It is normal to have some variation in development. If in doubt about a child’s development, check with a doctor.

Some of the early signs that a baby under one year old may have autismspectrum disorder include:

  • Not babbling by four months old

  • Not smiling by five months old

  • Not laughing by six months old

  • No interest in games like pat-a-cake or peek-a-boo by eight months old

  • Not responding to their name by 12 months old

  • Not looking at objects pointed out by other people by 12 months old

  • Being upset by loud noises

  • Not looking to a parent for comfort in new situations

  • Being happy to play alone for long periods of time

  • Not making eye contact

Around 25 to 30 percent of children with autism have developed some language skills by 18 months but then go on to lose them. Some children between one year old and two years old may also lose play or other social skills they have developed.

Common signs of autism

Some of the more common signs that may indicate a person has autisminclude:

  • Avoiding eye contact

  • Delayed speech and communication skills

  • Reliance on rules and routines

  • Being upset by relatively minor changes

  • Unexpected reactions to sounds, tastes, sights, touch and smells

  • Difficulty understanding other people’s emotions

  • Focusing on or becoming obsessed by a narrow range of interests or objects

  • Engaging in repetitive behavior such as flapping hands or rocking

  • Children not responding to their name by 12 months

  • Children not pointing at distant objects by 14 months

Early signs of autism in toddlers

If in doubt about a child’s development, check with a doctor.
Signs of autism in toddlers
 
  • Some of the signs that a toddler, between one year old and two years old, may have autism spectrum disorder include:9

  • Not developing language skills such as saying mama or dada by one year old, or using simple sentences by two years old

  • Only saying one word at a time

  • Repeating words over and over

  • Lacking interest in playing social games or being around other children

  • Not making eye contact

  • Not imitating others

  • Engaging in repetitive behavior such as flapping hands, rocking or twirling

Some children between one year old and two years old may also lose play or other social skills they have developed.