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Know the Signs: An Autism Symptoms Checklist

written by: Deidra Alexander • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 7/28/2010

Most children develop at a normal, predictive pace. When widespread troubles of development persist, parents will rightfully want answers as to why this happening to their child. Review this autism symptoms checklist to answer your provocative questions on development.

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    A perceived influx of autism diagnoses handed out to children in the past several years has parents constantly on the lookout for a signs. In reality, autism is not a new condition, but improvements in methodologies of evaluations have caused increases of incidences of diagnoses. With a higher number of people identified, awareness of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is very beneficial to the community but at the same time it can bring negative attention, evident by hypersensitive reactions towards characteristics that are also associated with several other disorders other ASD. In an attempt to promote knowledge and acceptance of the variations in indications of a difference in development, this autism symptoms checklist was compiled for family, friends, and community members of children who are believed to be on the spectrum.

    Special Notice: As already stated, autism is a spectrum disorder which means not everyone with this condition is the same. For every child that displays the first five symptoms given on this checklist, the next child will only have a few of them. In addition, symptoms come and go and vary in degree of severity with levels ranging from high functioning to moderate-severe across lifestyles, age groups, depending upon coping skills, etc.

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    Symptoms

    Poor eye-to-eye contact-a general and pervasive lack of nonverbal communication skills

    Disinterest in making friends or building a relationship with anyone

    No value of the social components that make up culture-i.e. social gatherings, bereavement, celebrations, etc

    Inappropriate laughing

    Delayed speech or regression in speech development

    Speech with no meaning-i.e. only repeating words and sounds from others-echolalia

    Fixation on certain topics or minuscule details of objects-i.e. will only eat a certain food or will sit with a toy and focus on it for hours

    Very low ability to function without strict routine-i.e. prefers rigidness in daily activities-obsessive compulsive behaviors

    Weak gross and fine motor skills-i.e. may be slow to crawl, walk, or cannot hold an eating utensil properly

    Hypersensitivity to stimuli-i.e. acoustics in a place may be irritating to the child causing them to cry out with intensity. Screaming so that the only way to get them to calm down is with complete removal of the stimuli

    Characteristic spinning, flailing, or arm flapping

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    It is highly important to realize that signs are more likely to show before the child’s 3rd birthday. After noticing, several of the symptoms on the list as signification of abnormal development, contact a qualified pediatrician, such as a family doctor, for a referral to a children’s hospital or center for diagnosis by a team of professionals. If you receive information that your child has ASD, taking the verdict given to you by the team and deciding your plan of action to attend to your child’s special needs is the next step in caring for a child on the spectrum.

    Further reading:

    Criteria for autism diagnosis

    Is it autism, or something else?

    Resources for family and community members with generalized guides on development from birth to age 21 from the American Pediatric Association