Autism Symptoms – Top Ten List Of Signs Your Child Has Autism

When the symptoms of autism first appear in your child, it can be very scary, but with early detection and treatment, much improvement can be made. Below are the top ten symptoms of autism that your child might exhibit that can indicate an autism spectrum disorder.

Autism Symptoms Checklist

These symptoms can indicate not only autism but also Asperger's syndrome. Asperger's syndrome is a milder form of autism. The autism symptoms below typically are those that we look for in toddlers but they can apply to older children as well.

  1. Failure to respond to their name. If you call your young child's name, and he or she does not respond, this is not a good thing. At a certain age, your toddler or young child should recognize…and respond…when you call their name.
  2. Avoidance of eye contact. This can show up very early, it can even be one of the autism symptoms recognized in infants. Babies, later diagnosed with autism, often avoid eye contact with their mother. In addition, many autistic babies do not want to be held or cuddled. The mother may wonder if she is doing something wrong and may not realize–until much later–that autism is to blame, not her. Along with this is the tendency to not watch people's faces when your child does speak.
  3. Unresponsiveness. We do not know a lot about autism causes, but luckily we are getting better at recognizing the symptoms–both mild autism symptoms as well as the signs of more severe autism. One symptom of both is often a general unresponsiveness to people. Your child might not notice someone else is in the room, or if he does, he will not try to interact with them or respond to any attempts to try to engage him.
  4. Obsession with specific objects or things. Many children with autism will focus intently on one item to the exclusion of everything else. For example, they may watch the sun hit the window endlessly, or have a favorite toy that they will never give up.
  5. Focusing on details and blocking out all else. One example of this is a young child who plays with a toy car, but focuses all his attention on the spinning wheels. Perhaps he spins them over and over and doesn't play with the car in the way another child might.
  6. Repetitive actions or activities. Does your child perform the same actions over and over again? Obsessively playing with a piece of string? Going through certain motions or a sequence of motions that they can't quite break out of? Having very set routines with their toys that you can't break or else it will cause a huge meltdown? This is another sign.
  7. Watching the same videos over and over again. Autistic kids are famous for this. Disney movies are a special favorite. Many kids with autism feel reassured by sameness, and it makes them feel secure to watch the same movie over and over or the same part of the movie over and over. Since they know what is going to happen, there are no surprises. This makes the world feel safer to them.
  8. Repetitive movements. Rocking or twirling are other common early autism signs. This is what is known as a self-stimulatory behavior. It is often used to try to shut the world around them out when they are overwhelmed. This way, they can focus on the internal stimuli of rocking instead of all the other emotions that come along with being overwhelmed.
  9. Self-injurious behavior is, unfortunately, another common sign of autism. This can often take the form of banging one's head or hand-biting. It is done out of frustration and as a way to focus on the stimuli from this behavior instead of the feelings inside.
  10. Delayed speech. While this is a common sign of autism it is not a common sign of Asperger's syndrome, a milder form of autism. Kids with autism will often not talk until they are 3, 4, 5 or older. Some people with autism will never speak.

If your child has any of these autism signs, it is worthwhile to take your child to a doctor or psychologist for an evaluation. Remember, early detection is critically important, so be sure to schedule an appointment if you suspect anything, even mild autism symptoms.  This autism symptoms checklist is not comprehensive, but covers the most common symptoms of autism, especially for toddlers and younger children. And remember, help is available. Recent advances in therapy and treatment for autism can help your loved one overcome many of the challenges of autism.

For details about therapies and suggestions from parents that can help both children and adults live full and happy lives see the book The Autism Survival Guide. There you will be able to sign up for the FREE Autism Newsletter as well as get additional information to help your loved one be happy and succeed in life.

And for those who worry about how to pay for all of these autism treatments and therapy, see the article, "Health Plans Must Cover Autism Screening"

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15 Responses to “Autism Symptoms – Top Ten List Of Signs Your Child Has Autism”

  1. leonard misigo Says:

    what can you do so that parents and children from third world countries can get hold of this books and other devices that can help our loved live with autism


  2. Sharmaine Songco Says:

    Wow, I’m surprised it zoomed in so far so clearly. Usually you get quite a bit of pixelation when zooming in that far with those types of products.


  3. jennifer Says:

    My sons 8 almost 9, we have an app to get him tested next week. I’m torn between hoping he’s just different and hoping they find something. He’s been different since around 3, he would repeat phrases verbatim off of movies constantly, wouldn’t even get on a bike with out a tantrums would turn it upside down an spin the wheels for as long as you’d let him, and line up his dinosaurs. He has since out grown those habits, but he prefers playing alone at school or will stand under the basket ball hoop an try to grab the ball. He always keeps 2 pencils with him an waves them around an seems to go into his own world, so I don’t know what’s really going on but I’m thinking it may be aspergers. If anyone has any recommendations I would LOVE to hear them! I tried asking questions by he scheduled a day 5 days later and only gave me 5mins :-) kids!


  4. Hollie W Says:

    I know all the early signs and symptoms during toddler years (18 months)but what if any are indicator of the severity (how mild or severe)of the disorder?


    • Craig Kendall - Author Says:

      To some extent, very early indicators do not give you a highly accurate idea of severity. Speak with your doctor and especially with an autism specialist. Many children tend to regress…this is especially true of early speech. These children begin with relatively normal speech and social skills development then seem to lose these skills. This can make an accurate assessment of long-term autism severity somewhat difficult to identify a very early ages.


  5. Hollie W Says:

    I really enjoyed all the informative information, thank you! I have searched and searched and can’t find any info on indicators during early signs of autism in toddler years and what specific ones could be indicators of how severe or mild the disorder may be? Any info would be extremely helpful and appreciated! Thank you and have a blessed day! I am just trying to get an idea of what could tell me how severe or mild the condition could be I know all the early signs and symptoms but which may be indicators on the severity?


  6. Derek Greene Says:

    Autism has certain signs indicate the person’s condition and there are endless detailed information about such cases BUT there are no reference about if those symptoms should ALL appear at the same time to indicate positive illness OR possibilities of missing one or more symptoms form the list still makes as if positive?

    And as Autism and Hypothyroid share some of those similar symptoms with no actual connection at least in causes between them can they also share similar treatment?


    • Craig Kendall - Author Says:

      You make excellent points. Autism is very challenging because there is no totally accurate way to diagnose it…you can not do an x-ray or take a blood test for example. Autism is diagnosed based on your child’s behavior. And several other learning disabilities have behaviors that overlap with the diagnosis for autism. Another challenge is that autism is a “spectrum disorder” meaning that one may have only a few, mild symptoms of autism (high functioning autism/Asperger’s syndrome) or have most all symptoms and be lower functioning. Therefore, no person with autism exhibits ALL of the symptoms of autism and the lack of or existence of some symptoms does not mean your loved one has (or does not have) autism.


  7. Bek Says:

    I come from a large highly educated family with several in the “genius” category, all very good with words, talented in several areas, also. (I’m not one of the geniuses.) I now believe that we all have a mild form of Aspergers Syndrome, for several reasons. My very intelligent grown son has it, I believe. (He pushed me away with all of his might even before he was 6 months old, refused to hold my hand as a toddler, even lightly, had frequent meltdowns–for some examples. But spoke early, and for example, was fixing everyone else’s computer by age nine. He’s now 28 with a great job in computers but his stress is tremendously high.

    We have struggled with every area, especially with understanding the way others think and missing non-verbal messages. I’ve sought counseling for 30 years (with highly trained educated Therapists), trying to figure out what was wrong with us, but no one thought about Aspergers until this year. There has been a lot of emotional pain and sadness. Now someone (educated Psychologist) tells me it could be “imprinting” instead of Aspergers–or some of both–because we have some similar characteristics to each other, among my huge extended family. But so many of the symptoms are there.

    What do you think of “imprinting”? Is it possible that it’s ALL imprinting? Why has it been so hard to break out of it? (I wish people wouldn’t go away when they hear the name “Aspergers”. I wish they understood that when we become attached, we love completely and forever–and when we lose someone it feels like an arm is being ripped from the torso.) I passed this on to my son. It’s my fault. How much of it is imprinting? Is it possible to know? (Can THAT be reversed?)


    • Craig Kendall - Author Says:

      I am certainly no expert on “imprinting” but my understand of it is that it is simply a way that genetics plays a role in the passing on a gene that “caused” autism. You can Google it if you want to know more. But nevertheless, I think it is irrelevant in your situation. Basically, here are the facts. You and several family members are somewhere on the autism spectrum. Likely on the high functioning autism/Asperger’s syndrome end.

      Typically, all people with autism suffer two basic deficiencies:

      1) Communication difficulties. As you state, you miss non-verbal cues and it is likely that you have trouble with nuanced speech, sarcasm and difficulty carrying on the bland chit-chat conversations which are the staple of conversations.

      2) Poor social skills. You mention your son having trouble understanding how other people think. Basically, what he is having trouble understanding is day-to-day social interactions.

      It is said that 80% of communication is non-verbal—tone of voice, facial expressions, pauses, body language, etc. Your family has difficulties “seeing” these verbal cues. That is why you feel that you cannot understand what other people are thinking.

      A challenge that you have is that none of you were diagnosed as children and have not had the benefit of a lifetime of training (although you say you have sought counseling for 30 years with a therapist). But what tends to help people with Asperger’s syndrome or high functioning autism is specific skills training, especially in communications and social skills. I suggest that you find a therapist who SPECIALIZES in helping ADULTS with Asperger’s syndrome and allow them to help you understand the nuances of language, how to “read” body language and facial expressions and understand the dance that makes up the interactions between adults in our society. My book, Thriving in Adulthood with Asperger’s Syndrome may be an ideal guide for you and your son.


    • Michelle Says:

      I happen to agree with Craig Kendall. I am in a similar situation as yourself. When I happened across an article on Asperger’s a few years ago a light bulb went off in my head. I had myself and my son go to a psychologist who specializes in these types of diagnoses and my son was officially diagnosed with Asperger’s (he doesn’t do the official assessments for adults). He did agree that after listening to my own issues and those of certain family members (my brother, my aunt, my great-uncle, etc.) that we all probably have Asperger’s. We are all highly educated and have high IQs (I am a math professor and my aunt is an artist). My brother has 3 degrees and works in computers. Luckily, the symptoms don’t seem to be as prevalent in females as in males. I am of the opinion that it is due to the fact that female brains have more connections across the lobes (this is a well-known fact in embryonic development) and, since our communication skills are better, we can cope (or hide) our symptoms better than the males.

      Knowing that I have Apserger’s finally gave me peace! I now know that I’m not weird…I just have a different neurotype! And I wouldn’t want to be any other way! I am lucky enough to have a job that isn’t overly stressful and where I have minimal interaction with people (other than students) if I choose.

      I would suggest finding a psychologist who is trained in ASD. They may be better able to help the anxiety and stress that comes with being an Aspie.


  8. Lorraine Gilmour Says:

    Oh My Gosh….! I have a 13 year old with Aspergers. He has watched the “Gilmour Girls” series from beginning to end about six times!! Whenever he is stressed, he puts it on and watches it for hours!

    Lorraine Gilmour


  9. sunny Says:

    My son is now 18. He ran away 2 years ago @ 16. He had a trust fund waiting for him when he turned 18 or emancipated. With the help of his “new family of friends”, coaching him to get a lawyer & emancipate, He accused me of abuse & neglect & other terrible things to be able to convince the judge to give him his money & he would be better off without me.

    After 16 years of enduring violent meltdowns physically directed at me, plus with me as a single mom /no child support, no medical insurance or family for assistance, & now him trading me for a meger trust fund of money, I finally gave in & agreed to the emancipation. That was two years ago.

    He has not contacted me since & will be running out of money soon. I just got Craig’s books. I cannot stop reading them. It has been a great source of comfort for me in my sorrow of loosing my boy. If I am lucky enough that one day in the future he reaches out to me, I will be better educated on how to deal with him. I have not found a more thorough collection of information on Aspergers in all of the years I raised my special sensitive son. Now I tell everyone I can about these valuable books so that no parent or child should suffer like my son & I did in ignorance & lack of assistance & guidance…Thank you Craig!


    • Craig Kendall - Author Says:

      First, thank you for the kind words about my books. I am grateful that they have helped.

      Now as far as your son is concerned, what has happened does not surprise me. Unfortunately, many teenagers rebel and those with Asperger’s are no exception. But teens with Asperger’s often have such bad social skills that they have few if any friends. They also have trouble dating and become anxious and depressed because of this. This makes both boys and girls susceptible to manipulation by those who take advantage of them. Once these other “friends” found out about the trust fund, no doubt they had an easy time manipulating your son and convincing him that they were real friends.

      Unfortunately, it is highly likely that when the money runs out so will his new found friends. I am sorry that he has abandoned you but he will likely be back once the money is gone. I strongly suggest that, if possible, you get him into social skills therapy and try to find him some real friends. I suggest attending an Asperger’s or autism support group in your area where you can meet other moms like yourself. Read this to find resources 40. Aspergers Support Resources

      You may also understand the need for a friend and the isolation your son feels by watching this video: PBS Video “An Emotional Life”

      If you are able to ever get your son to attend he may be able to find friends with Asperger’s who will accept him for who he is. Good luck.


  10. Rajamohan.G Says:

    The ten tip symptoms should be made known to teachers in schools and in special schools so that parents especially mothers are to be aware of them.


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