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Autism Signs and Symptoms in Young Children

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects 1 in 44 children in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Signs of ASD can be evident in children as young as 12 to 24 months old, though it’s rare to get a diagnosis before the age of two.

Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial for children with autism, as research has shown that early treatment leads to better outcomes in the long term. However, recognizing the early signs of autism can be challenging, as the symptoms can vary widely from child to child. Given how the symptoms of early symptoms of autism in young children can often be missed, it’s helpful to research this information online before consulting a doctor.

Lack of Eye Contact

One of the earliest signs of autism is a lack of eye contact, which can be noticeable as early as 9 months of age. Children with autism may avoid eye contact, look away when being spoken to, or have difficulty making eye contact during social interactions.

Poor Social Skills

Another early symptom of autism is poor social skills, such as difficulty making friends, initiating play, and understanding social cues. Children with autism may also have trouble understanding sarcasm or jokes, and may struggle to understand the emotions of others.

Repetitive Behaviors

Repetitive or obsessive behaviors are another common symptom of autism, and can include repetitive movements, such as flapping, rocking, or spinning, as well as repetitive speech patterns or routines. Children with autism may also become fixated on specific interests or objects, and may have difficulty adapting to changes in routine.

Communication Difficulties

Many children with autism have difficulty with communication, and may have delayed language development or limited language abilities. They may also struggle with expressing themselves, understanding others, and following instructions.

Sensory Sensitivities

Children with autism may also have sensory sensitivities, such as an aversion to certain textures, lights, or sounds, or a heightened sensitivity to touch, taste, or smell. They may also have trouble with motor skills, such as holding a pencil or catching a ball.

Unusual Behaviors

Unusual behaviors, such as staring at lights or spinning objects, can also be early signs of autism. Children with autism may also have trouble with imaginative play, such as pretending to be someone else or playing with toys in a stereotypical way.

Lack of Interest in Play

A lack of interest in play is another early symptom of autism, as children with autism may struggle to engage in imaginative play or social play with others. They may also prefer to play alone or with toys in a repetitive or predictable manner.

Unusual Reactions To Stimuli

Children with autism may also have unusual reactions to stimuli, such as an aversion to being touched or an unusual interest in objects or movements. They may also become overly fixated on specific objects, such as lights or spinning toys, and may have trouble shifting their attention to other things.

Limited Expression

Limited expression is another early symptom of autism, as children with autism may have difficulty expressing their emotions or understanding the emotions of others. They may also have trouble with nonverbal communication, such as pointing, waving, or smiling.

Resistance to Change

Resistance to change is another early symptom of autism, as children with autism may struggle with changes in routine or with adapting to new situations. They may also have trouble with transitions, such as moving from one activity to another, and may become upset or distressed when their routine is disrupted.