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Signs of Autism

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by:
•social impairments
•cognitive impairments
•communication difficulties
•repetitive behaviors

Because Autism is a spectrum disorder, it can range from very mild to very severe and occur in all ethnic, socioeconomic and age groups. Males are four times more likely to have autism than females. Some children with autism appear normal before age 1 or 2 and then suddenly “regress” and lose language or social skills they had previously gained. This is called the regressive type of autism.

Early Signs:
A person with ASD might:
•Not respond to their name (the child may appear deaf)
•Not point at objects or things of interest, or demonstrate interest
•Not play “pretend” games
•Avoid eye contact
•Want to be alone
•Have difficulty understanding, or showing understanding, or other people’s feelings or their own
•Have no speech or delayed speech
•Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
•Give unrelated answers to questions
•Get upset by minor changes
•Have obsessive interests
•Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
•Have unusual reactions (over or under-sensitivity) to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
•Have low to no social skills
•Avoid or resist physical contact
•Demonstrate little safety or danger awareness
•Reverse pronouns (e.g., says “you” instead of “I”)
•Gives unrelated answers to questions

People with autism may also:
•Have unusual interests and behaviors
•Have extreme anxiety and phobias, as well as unusual phobias
•Line up toys or other objects
•Play with toys the same way every time
•Like parts of objects (e.g., wheels)
•Become upset by minor changes
•Have obsessive interests

Other Symptoms:
•Hyperactivity (very active)
•Impulsivity (acting without thinking)
•Short attention span
•Causing self injury
•Unusual eating and sleeping habits
•Unusual mood or emotional reactions
•Lack of fear or more fear than expected
•Have unusual sleeping habits

This article is reprinted from the National Autism Association website. To read the article in its entirety, please visit:

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