Signs, Symptoms, and Behaviors of Autism in Toddlers
Many parents have become fearful for their young children with the high number of new cases of autism being diagnosed each year. Most aren't sure what to look for when attempting to assess if their child might have autism.
Here are some common signs, symptoms, and behaviors of high-functioning autism in toddlers.
Signs, Symptoms, and Behaviors of Autism in Children
- lack of interest in other children
- lack of imitation
- no pointing to ask for something
- failure to gaze at an object that another person asks them to look at or follow
- doesn't bring objects to show or share with parents
- lack of response when called
- doesn't play with toys appropriately
- no babbling at the age of 6 months
- no single or two-word phrases by eighteen months
- repetitive behaviors like spinning or running back and forth
- loss of skills they may have learned previously (regression)
- missing milestones at appropriate ages (rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking)
- inability to maintain or make eye contact
For some toddlers with high-functioning autism, the child may actually speak early or have an advanced vocabulary. However, for others, some parents report that their children have spoken later (after eighteen months), but their speech was normal.
Another concern reported by parents was the loss of previously learned skills like speaking, making eye contact, and answering to their names when called. In these cases, researchers aren't sure if the children regressed due to the onset of autism, or if others around them simply became more aware of the child's lack of social interaction, communication, and/or unusual behavior.
It is also important to remember that most children with high-functioning autism will speak, read, and write at the same age as their peers. One of the reasons they are misdiagnosed or diagnosed later is because their social interaction, failure to recognize nonverbal communication cues, and repetitive behavior may not seem too far from the norm when they are very young.
In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is published by the American Psychiatry Association, a person must demonstrate two or more deficits in each of the three main categories of social interaction, communication, and restricted behaviors to qualify for an autism diagnosis. Many doctors are wary of labeling very young children as having autism spectrum disorder. Some delay making a diagnosis unless the child presents severe or extreme signs, symptoms, or behaviors associated with autism.