These are the Autism Signs and Symptoms Parents Should Know


If you are looking for the signs and symptoms that make up autism spectrum disorder, you’re right where you need to be.

But if you are looking for an overview of autism spectrum disorderstart here.

On this page, we’ll review the signs and symptoms of autism, and we’ll do it in an engaging way that fully paints a picture of the condition.

Autism is a disorder of social deficits, but it’s also a disorder of heightened sensitivity.

It’s a paradox of sorts, so we’ve included a few helpful videos to show you what we mean.

We also compiled a few short lists to highlight important information about the signs and symptoms of autism that are particular to certain developmental stages.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Repetitive Behavior / Focus on Sameness

This Organization for Autism Research video will give you a nice introduction to repetitive behaviors. 

And here’s a video about one repetitive behavior in particular: hand-flapping.

This is a common behavior for many children on the spectrum, and it is done as a way to self-soothe, to calm down when things become too overwhelming.

This type of self-soothing behavior is one way that some individuals with autism manage overstimulation, and it is known in the autism community as “stimming.”

Fixed Special Interests

Strong Reactions (or Underreaction) to Sensory Stimuli

Individuals with autism are more likely than others to have extreme reactions to sensory stimuli.

And this can go both ways.

A person with autism might quickly become overwhelmed by bright lights or loud sounds. We wrote about sensory overload in an earlier post.

But the opposite can also be true. Some people with autism may underreact to situations that might produce strong reactions in others.

Now let’s review autism signs and symptoms by various age groups. Physical, psychological, and social development will differ from child to child, but these lists will give you a good idea of what to look out for based on your child’s age.

Signs and Symptoms of Autism in Babies

  • Limited eye contact or no eye contact at all

  • Rarely smiles or shows outward displays of affection

Signs and Symptoms of Autism in Toddlers (1-3 years of age)

  • Continues to show little eye contact

  • May not respond to hearing own name

  • Does not speak or only speaks in short, repetitive phrases

  • Preference for being alone / can play independently for long periods of time, as if “off in their own world”

The following video provides excellent examples of what autism might look like during this developmental stage. You will watch three pairs of one-year-olds, with one child showing signs of autism spectrum disorder and another child showing neurotypical development. 

Signs and Symptoms of Autism in Children and Teenagers

  • Difficulty understanding social situations and others’ emotions

  • Lack of eye contact

  • A narrow range of fixed interests

  • Repetitive behaviors, such as repeating physical movements or certain words and phrases

Putting the pieces together: Reviewing what you’ve learned

As you can see, autism spectrum disorder consists of a collection of signs and symptoms.

There’s no one clear definition of autism for a person living with it.

But even though individual experiences can greatly differ, you’ll notice that there are clear signs to look out for and obvious themes to learn from.

The idea is to bring these patterns of behavior into your awareness.

Because, as a parent, you have a front-row view of your child’s development.

It’s important to remember one thing: noticing that something might be amiss is only the first step.

If you have suspicions that your child might be showing signs of autism, it’s always best to go to your child’s pediatrician with your concerns.

Here at AnswersNow, we work with caregivers of children young and old. We even work with parents of young adults.

Being a caregiver of a child or adult with special needs can be bewildering.

That’s why we created the AnswersNow app.

It takes less than a minute to sign up and start chatting with your very own autism clinician today.

We can help you learn about the signs of symptoms of autism, but we do more than that–we empower you.

We can answer any autism-parenting questions you might have and help you develop the skills to know what to do for years to come!

It’s free to get started.