Pin Me

A Summary of Signs of Autism by Age

written by: Paula Davis • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 8/28/2010

If your child is not developing at the normal rate of other children, it is advised that a neurological exam be conducted as this may suggest mental impairments like autism. Yet most kids aren't diagnosed until age three, but it's better to know much sooner than later either way.

  • slide 1 of 7


    Signs of Asperger's Autism normally show when a child is three years or older and a more accurate diagnosis can now be made. My son "Steve" (not his real name) showed signs of Asperger's Autism right away due to lack of eye contact, and he did not like to be cuddled as well as a few other signs. I could see the signs of Asperger's Autism were present but was in denial.

    When “Steve” was 18 months old he was "officially" diagnosed with several conditions/disabilities. The various diagnoses including Asperger's Autism could have actually been diagnosed earlier. Thirty years ago doctors did not want to label a child with a specific diagnosis involving mental illness because that diagnosis would be carried with that child for the rest of his/her life.

    He was also tagged with PDD which is pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified [PDD-NOS]). Doctors did not want to put a label on “Steve” so instead of just saying he had Asperger Autism we were told he had autistic characteristics. Asperger syndrome, also known as Asperger disorder or Asperger's syndrome is one of a group of neurodevelopmental disorders that have effects on an individual's behavior, use of language and communication and their patterns of social interactions. Asperger disorder is characterized as one of the autism spectrum disorders.

    Once a mother or father or even pediatrician for that matter notices that a child is not developing at the normal rate of other children a neurological exam is advised. The age will vary from child to child. It is very unlikely that a pediatrician would advise one for an 18-month old child unless there was something extremely out of kilter.

    Most of the time a diagnosis of PDD or Asperger Autism is not even considered until after the age of three and sometimes not until the child is in elementary school.

  • slide 2 of 7

    Some of the Signs of an Autistic Spectrum Disorder

    Social-behavioral symptoms can begin as early as infancy. Some of the symptoms that may be present are:

    Social interactions and relationships

    • Significant problems developing nonverbal communication skills, such as eye-to-eye gazing, facial expressions, and body posture.
    • Failure to establish friendships with children the same age.
    • Lack of interest in sharing enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people.
    • Lack of empathy. People with autism may have difficulty understanding another person's feelings, such as pain or sorrow.

    Verbal and nonverbal communication

    • Delay in, or lack of, learning to talk. As many as 40% of people with autism never speak.1
    • Problems taking steps to start a conversation. Also, people with autism have difficulties continuing a conversation after it has begun.
    • Stereotyped and repetitive use of language. People with autism often repeat over and over a phrase they have heard previously (echolalia).
    • Difficulty understanding their listener's perspective. For example, a person with autism may not understand that someone is using humor. They may interpret the communication word for word and fail to catch the implied meaning.

    Limited interests in activities or play

    • An unusual focus on pieces. Younger children with autism often focus on parts of toys, such as the wheels on a car, rather than playing with the entire toy.
    • Preoccupation with certain topics. For example, older children and adults may be fascinated by video games, trading cards, or license plates.
    • A need for sameness and routines. For example, a child with autism may always need to eat bread before salad and insist on traveling the same route every day to school.
    • Stereotyped behaviors. These may include body rocking and hand flapping.

    Source: WebMD

    If your child is having a problem with any of the signs listed above then he/she should be checked by a neurologist as it may be a form of PDD or Asperger’s Autism or it may be something entirely different.

  • slide 3 of 7
    Explanations and a Summary of the Various Signs of Autism by AgeIf you notice that your own child -- or the child of a close friend -- is failing to develop pscychologically at the same rate as other children, a neurological exam can detect the presence of neural impairments like autism or any related neurodevelopmental disorder.
  • slide 4 of 7

    Signs of Autism by Age: Symptoms During Childhood

    Parents and/or caregivers normally notice unusual mannerisms by the time the child is three or four years of age. Autism is congenital but sometimes signs of the disorder are hard to diagnose at an earlier age. If the child does not want you to play, be held or cuddled and does repetitive behavior for considerable periods of time then you should be concerned and seek medical advice.

    Sometimes the child will start to talk when other children have learned to talk, but after a period of time they lose the capability of speech and just stop talking. I know for my son; he was born deaf in his left ear, but after being tested it was found he could hear at times and not at other times. This can cause confusion with diagnosing. If children are diagnosed early enough and have early intervention and intensive therapy most will be able to communicate when they get older.

  • slide 5 of 7

    Signs of Autism by Age: Symptoms During Adolescence

    When your child becomes older the behaviors change and the hormones kick in. The adolescent picks up new skills yet they continue to be slow in social skills and they do not understand simple gestures or communication and are certainly confused with sexuality. Teenagers who are in the Asperger Autistic Spectrum are at a higher risk of having depression and anxiety.

  • slide 6 of 7

    Signs of Autism by Age: Symptoms in Adults

    Some adults with autism are able to work independently and others are not. Almost 50% of those diagnosed with autism are able to live somewhat independently. With autism in an adult, as in a child, the degree varies. Some adults need more supervision especially those that have lower communication skills, On the higher end of the spectrum people are a little more successful in work and daily living. However, they still have difficulty with social skills and relating to others. Most of the higher functioning individuals have higher IQs.

  • slide 7 of 7

    Other Things You Need to be Aware Of

    Many of the people who have the symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) also have autism.

    People with autism have unusual sensory perceptions. Some can feel the lightest of touch while others have an extremely high tolerance of pain. Once again different ends of the spectrum. One can feel slight pain yet someone else who is actually experiencing extreme pain feels nothing. From first-hand knowledge I can tell you this can be dangerous. For example you may not know when your child has a horrific ear ache while others with the same type of ear ache will be screaming.

    People with autism can have some unusual preoccupations. Some can be focused on trains, another on the action of walking around a table over and over. Depending on the degree of the autism there is no gray, everything is black and white. They have strong likes and dislikes, no in between. It is difficult trying to convince someone with autism there can be two different ways of doing one chore.