Signs of Autism

Autism is a lifelong disability that affects about 1 in 68 or 1.5% of children. Common signs of Autism show with difficulty in social and communication skills, and restricted or repetitive behaviours. Although there is no one indicator, a combination of several key signs could indicate autism.

Communication and Social Interaction

  • does not make eye contact when spoken to
  • does not return your smile
  • does not feel the need to play with other children
  • often seems to be in his/her own world
  • prefers to play alone
  • repetitive speech and unusual language pattern
  • loss of words previously understood and used
  • not able to imitate simple motor movements eg. clapping hands
  • has very limited social play (eg “Peek-a-Boo” )
  • not responding to his/her name by first birthday
  • not waving or pointing by first birthday

Behavioural Habits

  • does not like change, has difficulty coping
  • has unusual interests not normally associated with children
  • develops unusual attachments to objects
  • plays with objects in unusual ways such as repetitive spinning or lining up
  • displays unusual movements such as walking on tiptoes, hand waving or flapping and spinning.
  • reacts in distressing ways to some everyday sounds
  • can become fixated with certain textures or scared or worried by certain textures
  • uses peripheral vision to look at objects

Signs of Autism Continued

Doctors diagnose Autism Spectrum Disorder by looking at a child’s behaviour and development. Young children withAutism Spectrum Disorder can usually be reliably diagnosed by age two. Older children and adolescents should be screened forAutism Spectrum Disorder when a parent or teacher raises concerns based on observations of the child’s social, communicative, and play behaviours.

Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder in adults is not easy. In adults, some Autism Spectrum Disorder symptoms can overlap with symptoms of other mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, getting a correct diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder as an adult can help a person understand past difficulties, identify his or her strengths, and obtain the right kind of help.

If you believe your child is showing signs of autism or you are concerned about your child’s behaviours and developmental milestone progress, we would recommend you see a professional to screen for Autism. Please contact us and we will put you in contact with a trusted doctor to help you find answers.

If a formal diagnosis is required, the evaluation is with a team of doctors and other health professionals with a wide range of specialties who are experienced in diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder. This team may include:

  • A developmental paediatrician – a doctor who has special training in child development.
  • A child psychologist and/or child psychiatrist—a doctor who knows about brain development and behaviour.
  • A speech-language pathologist – a health professional who has special training in communication difficulties.

The evaluation may assess:

  • Cognitive level or thinking skills.
  • Language abilities.
  • Age-appropriate skills needed to complete daily activities independently, such as eating, dressing, and going to the toilet.

The outcome of the evaluation will result in recommendations to help plan services and supports.  It’s important to get help and support as soon as possible.


Although there is no one indicator, a combination of several key signs could indicate autism.

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