What are the signs and symptoms?
Written by : DoctorNDTV Team
Checked by : Dr S Anandalakshmy
Advisor on Child Development & Education,
The characteristics of autism are also the symptoms of autism. The most commonly seen symptoms in an autistic child are:
- Avoidance of eye contact: for example, sometimes the child may give the feeling of "looking through you".
- Withdrawal from people, by turning away face or body.
- Hypersensitivity to sounds - the child may cover his ears or try and burrow under pillows to block out sounds. The child may show extreme reactions to sounds like the whirring of a car engine in the distance or the ringing of the telephone. (Similarly with other senses)
- Difficulties with speech - Some children with autism are verbal others are not. Even those who are verbal use speech functionally. In some cases a child may begin to speak at the appropriate age, but regress around 16 to 18 months and stop speaking altogether. There may be reversal of pronouns (substitution of "you" for "I"), continuous repetition of previously heard words (echolalia) and a flat tone of voice.
- The child may also show stereotypic or repeated actions. The child may spin or twirl objects with intense concentration, and any attempt to disengage him from it may lead to a tantrum.
- There is a marked absence of pointing to objects in young children with autism. If a child wants to reach out for an object, he may grab an adult's hand near him and then try and pick the object.
- A child with autism typically does not show emotions or reactions to situations outwardly.
- He may not cry when hurt and may not show sadness when his parents are not near him. (This does not mean the child does not experience emotions).
- The child may not like to be picked up and may stiffen whenever there is an attempt to cuddle him.
- Generally, he does not play with other children and does not desire company.