Early Signs of Autism: Recognizing Symptoms and Getting Help

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January 4, 2024 by Marjorie R. Rogers, MA (English), Certified Consultant

Autism is a developmental disability that affects people’s ability to interact with others and understand social cues. However, aside from social interactions, there are several symptoms of autism that you can recognize in children at an early age. By paying attention to the signs of autism and responding quickly when you notice them in your child, you can provide them with the support they need to thrive. Here are a few early signs of autism to help you recognize the symptoms and get help when you need it.

Social Skills

One of the easiest signs of autism to recognize is a struggle with social skills. This doesn’t mean that children with autism are unable to make friends or interact with their peers, but they often have difficulties with certain aspects of socializing, such as being unable to understand the feelings that others display or to read social cues. Other signs of autism in terms of social skills include difficulty recognizing jokes or teasing and an overt lack of conversational skills, such as holding a back-and-forth conversation. Similarly, children with autism can misunderstand facial expressions or have trouble controlling their own.

Delayed Communication

Delayed communication is another key sign of autism that you can recognize early in a child’s life. For some children, this involves significant delays in speech development, including not reaching speaking milestones or having difficulty forming and understanding words. Other children with autism may experience this symptom in milder ways, such as withdrawing or coming across as shy in crowds or social situations but speaking effectively at home. Another common sign of delayed communication in children with autism is the repeating of words and phrases, known as echolalia

Repetitive or Restricted Behaviors

Consistently repeating or restricting behaviors can also be a sign that a child has autism. For instance, if a child plays with their toys in the same way every single time, or continuously lines up their toys and becomes stressed when they’re moved, this can be a sign of autism. Other examples of repetitive behaviors include flapping their hands consistently, rocking back and forth, or spinning in circles. In terms of restricted behaviors, children with autism may refuse to engage in certain activities, especially if they fall outside of the child’s chosen routine.

What To Do if You Recognize These Symptoms

If you recognize these symptoms in your child or a child close to you, there are a few steps you can take to help. Speak with the child’s primary care doctor first to schedule an assessment and discuss care plans. You can also reach out to a children’s autism center to get more information about managing symptoms and to sign up for additional help and programs that support children with autism, including ABA therapy and online coaching. 

These are a few of the most common symptoms of autism that you can identify in early childhood. There are many ways to get help if your child has autism, and you can always be an advocate for people with autism by supporting those around you and educating people who aren’t as informed. 

About Author (Marjorie R. Rogers)

The inspiring mum of 6 who dedicates her time to supporting others. While battling with her own demons she continues to be the voice for others unable to speak out. Mental illness almost destroyed her, yet here she is fighting back and teaching you all the things she has learned along the way. Get Started To Read …