Symptoms of Autism in Children

The symptoms of autism in children are of vital importance for its detection because lab tests can't really detect them.
Symptoms of Autism in Children

Last update: 10 June, 2021

It’s important to understand what autism is about when speaking of its symptoms in children. This is because there are no complementary studies with which to reach a diagnosis — such as blood or imaging. As you can see, we must rely on behavior.

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) comprise a number of developmental disabilities grouped together by common characteristics.

We don’t know the causes of these disorders yet. There are genetic associations in some cases, but nothing consistent. This is why we can’t conclude that it’s due to one given factor.

There are three areas affected in those with autism: social behavior, language, and communication. Furthermore, people in the autism spectrum perform repetitive patterns of behavior related to a lack of interest in their surroundings.

The symptoms of autism in children appear before the age of 3, and, therefore, it’s essentially a developmental disorder. These tend to remain throughout an individual’s life once they manifest.

Let’s see what the early symptoms of autism are, according to the major areas affected. We’ll also review the most common signs of the spectrum as it relates to the child’s interaction with others, communication, and behavior.

Symptoms of autism – difficulty communicating

Children on the autism spectrum may have serious language impairment. It’s common for them to be unresponsive to questions and opt for not speaking. In fact, they often remain silent for long periods of time.

Facial expression is another characteristic and there’s little gesturing. Because of this, it’s difficult for parents to interpret what the little ones are feeling. We all know that gestures are an important part of communication, and this fact makes interaction difficult in autistic children.

Some children recognize their name perfectly well but don’t respond to it. Sometimes, adults believe it’s an auditory problem and begin their journey of consultations with otorhinolaryngologists.

On other occasions, children get in the habit of repeating a question constantly, even when they receive a satisfactory answer. They don’t do it to receive an answer though, it’s only part of their repetitive behavior.

A little girl in a room.
A lack of interaction with the surrounding environment is typical of those on the autism spectrum.

Read about The Five Most Common Signs of Autism

Lack of social interaction

People on the autism spectrum disorder lack a need for social interaction at their core. The child seems disconnected from the surrounding reality and has no interest in relating to it.

The gaze is also quite characteristic. In fact, not looking directly into the eyes of others is precisely one of the symptoms of autism. In addition, they avert the gaze to the sides in situations that might require direct contact.

They usually don’t like intimate gestures such as hugs, and will reject this approach, even aggressively, if they deem it necessary.

The playing of children with autism spectrum disorder is solitary. It’s difficult for them to establish play routines with other children. Also, personal play is repetitive, always in the same way, and always with the same toys they selected from the beginning.

Abnormal behavior as a symptom of autism

The behavior of autistic children seems strange to other people. For instance, they do things that others wouldn’t do and give functions to things that are out of the conventional norm.

The toys they choose are given a differential function, and they may only play with part of them, without using the whole game. Of course, the play is repetitive and monotonous.

Rocking in autism is another classic sign. Children with these disorders move back and forth in the same place, sometimes for hours. This can be accompanied by a gaze lost in space, always in the same direction.

Changing routines is a big problem for an autistic child. This is because they organize their life around rituals and repetitions that turn into crises if they undergo any change, violent attacks are quite common.

A child with a therapist.
The behavior of autistic children is different and strange to other people.

Detecting the symptoms of autism: the earlier the better

It’ll be easier to deal with treatment if parents are attentive to the detection of the aforementioned symptoms, and health professionals are skilled in guiding the diagnosis. It’s a chronic disease, but early identification significantly improves the quality of life for families.

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