What Are the Symptoms of Autism?

Attention! Your child may have autism!

If your child: 

  • does not make eye contact or just makes eye contact at any time he or she wants,
  • does not look back or pay attention when his or her name is told,
  • are around 1.5 years of age and still do not speak or have certain words and then disappeared,
  • speaks only when he or she wants to or when it is necessary to say 1-2 words,
  • has echolalia which means repeating everything he or she hears,
  • does not show something with his/her index finger,
  • constantly expresses his/her wishes by disturbing others,
  • cannot wave as a symbol of bye,
  • cannot establish symbolic play, such as a dollhouse,
  • cannot perform dramatization,
  • has imitation skills limited or even no imitation skills,
  • does not establish a relationship with peers and play with them,
  • treats other people around them as things or tools,
  • shows obsessing behaviors such as always uses the same path, repeats the same things,
  • has ritualistic behaviors,
  • makes repetitive and stereotypic behaviors, such as flapping their arms, looking at their hands, swinging, rotating objects, turning around themselves, shaking objects like rope, moving unrelated objects in their hands,
  • does not use the toys for the purpose,
  • has no facial expression that matches the emotional state and does not use gestures and facial expressions,
  • is not aware of the danger,
  • is less sensitive to pain,
  • is walking at toes, 
  • has meaningless, unwarranted crying or laughing,
  • has tantrums, self-harm behaviors such as chin-hitting, head-hitting or self-biting,
  • does not like being touched or wants to touch his/her parents, especially the mother, continuously,
  • is not reactive in separations and reunions,
  • has a feeling of insecurity in the changing environment and in the changing behaviors,


There is a father of a child with autism spectrum disorder and he told their story about that. His daughter was 3 years old when she was diagnosed with autism. Since her birth, they spoke in English with her and that’s why her family welcomed her delay in speech. But over time, they cannot make sense.

After the age of 2, the child started playing games. She could play reconnaissance games for hours and remove and install objects. However, she did not look back when they called her name. Mostly it did not seem to listen to parents and people around her. Even though she seemed to be playing very well with her peers, father realized that she had never looked at the other’s face and that she only played object oriented.

She never cared for those who came home. His daughter was eating all sorts of food, but it was supposed to turn into the mash. When they gave the meal as a solid, she did not even touch the food. She wanted her wishes by pointing with her finger without crying. She began to shake from the age of 2.5 and she was doing so rhythmically that her parents thought that she was dancing.

The father says that they only had to go once in order for her to memorize a place. One day they went to dinner where they never went before. As they walked from the car to the restaurant, the girl saw the bookstore that they were constantly shopping and she ran in that direction. She was in a weeping crisis because, obviously, parents did not let her go to the bookstore. The father could not keep his kid in his arms. The child completely closed herself to the world.

Now, he says that he understands that crying was an autism-related obsession and anger. Also, he added that if someone else spends a day with his daughter, he/she will not notice these details. They think that his daughter is a very naughty and stubborn child. After such events, his wife and he said to each other, ‘Do you not suspect anything anymore?’ And their adventure of autism spectrum disorder started.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is an important neuro-developmental disorder in which symptoms are observed in early childhood. In some children, some of these stages start earlier, while in some children some of the symptoms are normal, while others develop symptoms or disruptions. A suspicion of autism is caused by a delayed or unresponsive biological speech. 

Different regions of the brain cannot work together in autism. Most individuals with autism will always be challenged to communicate with others. But early diagnosis has helped more and more people use their full potential. Although the exact cause of autism is not known, some scientists think it is genetic. It is currently being investigated which gene can cause this disorder.

Other studies have focused on whether autism is triggered by certain drugs or things around the child. Some scientists believe that childhood vaccines such as measles-mumps-rubella are caused by this. But research has shown that this is not real. It is important to make these vaccines because these vaccines protect the child from diseases that may cause death or even cause death.

Sensory problems are evident in the symptoms seen in autism spectrum disorder. Sensory problems reduce the harmony of the individual with the environment. It reduces the adaptation of the individual to life. For example; high sensitivity to sound, touch sensitivity, sensitivity to light, problems of depth, problems with balance, and the problems that continue with the development of the individual continue to increase the problems in the social order.

Autism Spectrum Disorder: Developmental Course

Autism spectrum disorder is not a degenerative disorder, it is a neurodevelopmental disorder. Symptoms are often most marked in early childhood and early school years, mostly before the age of 3. Compared to normally developed individuals, their developments gain typical in later childhood, for example, improvements in social skills, communications skills, and repetitive ritualistic behaviors.

Autism is typically recognized during the second year of life. Earlier than 12 months, it can be recognized only if symptoms are severe. It is noted later than 24 months if symptoms are more subtle. Some children with autism exhibit a gradual or relatively rapid deterioration in social behaviors or language skills (12 to 24 months).

Delayed language development is the first sign of autism spectrum disorder. It is often accompanied by a lack of social interest or unusual social interactions, odd play patterns, and unusual communication patterns.

There are also other early symptoms such as joint attention and not establishing and maintaining eye contact. They could have either responding to joint attention or initiating joint attention. Responding joint attention means if someone calls a child with autism like 4 or 5 times and there is no answer, then again if someone joints something by saying “look” and still there is no answer.

On the other hand, initiating joint attention means that while a child is playing, suddenly stops and expectancy would be a call or look at a parent, however, children with autism spectrum disorder cannot initiate this. If there would be the same situation with them, they keep playing without a look around parents.

During the second year of life, odd and repetitive behaviors, such as rocking, and the absence of typical play become more apparent. Repetitive motor movements are observed in younger low functioning autism.

Is It Possible That the New Born Child Has Autism Spectrum Disorder?

The rate of disability of the child after the birth (including all disability groups) is 2%. The rate of having an autism spectrum disorder is 0.5%. After the first child is born with autism, the risk of autism in the second child is 3%. In addition to those, autism is observed 4 times higher in boys than in girls. Autism symptoms and their level in each child may vary, so it is difficult to categorize the levels of autism.

Autism Spectrum Disorder: Symptoms

Autism Spectrum Disorder is one of the neurodevelopmental disorders in DSM-5 which is The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is used by clinicians and psychiatrists, in short mostly mental health professionals, in order to diagnose psychiatric illnesses.

Autism is characterized by impairments in social interaction, communication, and stereotyped behaviors and interests. Although the severity of the symptoms varies, individuals with autism have certain symptoms in some areas.

1. Persistent deficiencies in social communication and social interactions (should be met currently or by history)

a. They can have deficiencies in social-emotional reciprocity

•    form an abnormal social approach

•    having problems closing to other people around them, even to parents

•    having a failure of normal back-and-forth conversation

•    having problems in establishing and maintaining eye to eye conversations

•    reduced or lack of sharing of interests, emotions or effect

•    having a failure to initiate or respond to social interactions and communications

b. They can have deficiencies in nonverbal communicative behaviors

•    form a poorly integrated verbal and nonverbal communication

•    abnormalities in having an eye contact

•    abnormalities in body language

•    having deficits in understanding and usage of gestures

•    having a total lack of facial expressions and nonverbal communication

•    lack of understanding and using nonverbal behaviors such as social expressions, gestures and body language

c. They can have deficiencies in developing, maintaining and understanding relationships

•    having difficulties in adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts

•    having deficits or absence in developing peer relations

•    having difficulties in sharing, imaginative play or in making friends

•    to the absence of interest in peers

2. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviors, interests or activities

a. stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects or speech

For example; they could have simple motor stereotypes; they could line up toys or flip objects; they could have echolalia which means that mechanical and meaningless repetition of the words of another person or themselves; they could use idiosyncratic phrases while talking; They can turn around themselves, which is the most distinct symptom of autism.

b. insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines or ritualized patterns of verbal or nonverbal behavior

For example; they would be in extreme distress or overreaction at even tiny changes; They could have difficulties with transition; they can have rigid thinking patterns such as eating the same food every day, wearing same clothes and even in same color every day or need to take the same route every day.

c. highly restricted, inflexible interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus

For example; They could have a strong attachment to or preoccupation with unusual objects; they might have excessively circumscribed or perseverative interests.

d. hyperactivity or hypo-reactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment

For example; They could have apparent indifference to pain, apparent indifference to temperature, adverse response to specific sounds or texture, excessive smelling or touching of objects, visual fascination with lights or movements.

—- Specify if; based on social communication impairments and restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviors

  • requiring very substantial support
  • requiring substantial support
  • requiring support

Autism spectrum disorder is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect all of them in different ways. Some of them can live relatively independent lives but others may need a lifetime of specialist support. In other words, they are in a different point on the spectrum and their autism severity level can vary. Based on severity level, their level of support should be determined.

3. Autism spectrum disorder symptoms must be present in the early developmental period.

4. Autism spectrum disorder symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of current functioning.

—- Specify if;

  • with or without accompanying intellectual impairment
  • with or without accompanying language impairment
  • associated with a known medical condition, genetic condition or environmental factor
  • associated with another neurodevelopmental disorder, mental disorder, or behavioral disorder
  • with catatonia ( it  is a group of symptoms that usually involve a lack of movement and communication, and also it can include agitation, confusion, and restlessness.)

What Are the Social Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder?

The ability to establish eye contact or even to establish a short period of time eye contact may be considered at first signs of autism symptoms. The use of gestures is also very limited. In addition, individuals with having social interaction problems cannot adjust their distance and tone with a person.

The person with autism spectrum disorder cannot demonstrate the same development of his or her peers and has difficulty in establishing interaction with people of their age. They develop relationships but it would be based on certain points of interest of specific people, not with everyone. Group activities are very difficult for them. They generally prefer loneliness and enjoy a limited amount of activities with others.

They do not express themselves easy when they are surprised and they do not respond to verbal praises. When other people around them show interest in individuals with autism, they do not respond and act as if they are not aware of those people. They are indifferent to this situation when there is a change in the environment. They cannot aware of simply do not care when there is someone crying, angry or rejoicing.

What Are the Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder When Communicating?

Autism symptoms include speech difficulties due to the late language development of children with autism. Some children may not be able to say a single word even if they exceed 2 years of age. They may be unable to make a sentence other than simple sentences of two words, even though they are older than 3 years of age.

It can be also included that the problem of having difficulty in conversations among communication difficulties. People with communication problems, among people with autism, have great difficulty in initiating, maintaining and terminating speech. They do not like to talk about anything other than they decide to talk.

They can repeat it again and again what someone has said to them, it is echolalia. They can express the sentences they heard on television or the phrases they read from somewhere at an irrelevant time. They can try to communicate with others using words that do not make any sense and make up their own.

They have difficulty in using their imagination in the games they play. They play their toys in a way that is different from the other children, for example, they can play with cars as a doll.

What Are the Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder That Occur in the Form of Limited and Repetitive Behaviors?

While individuals with autism are very interested in some issues, they have nothing to do with some issues or simply they ignore. They do not even react. They might want to do the same thing all the time. They may want to do the same thing at any time when they are interested in something. They may want to do some sort of behavior the same way each time. They may get angry if it is not done the way they want.

Among the symptoms of autism, extreme attention to moving objects by making unusual hand movements also could be considered. It is not enough to observe only one of these behaviors. At least two of the social interaction problems, as well as at least one of the other categories, should be observed as a symptom.

On the other hand, the child may not have autism spectrum disorder even if he or she has autism symptoms. At this point, an expert such as mental health professionals, psychologists, psychiatrists or pediatrician will surely help. There are actually many branches under the subject of autism spectrum disorder. According to the symptoms of autism, it can be determined whether or not the child has which type of treatment.

There is a girl who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of 2. She wiped off fine art school because she had autism and she was an unwelcome student during her education life, however, finally she got her dream. Now, she is a university student.

During her primary, secondary and high school education, she attended school for normally developed children and attended mainstreaming classes. The musical talent, which has been noticed since her little ages, could not be evaluated due to the lack of suitable educators.

She was 13 when she started her music education. The rapid development of her and her start to play the piano gave a new direction to her life. That girl with an autism spectrum disorder, who has been playing the piano for about 7 years, has the ability to determine the frequency of the sound she has heard and to convert it to the correct notes without the reference voice, which is called the absolute ear.

In 2016, she performed in the sixth ANCA International World Autism Festival in which children with autism spectrum disorder competed in Canada and came back to her country with his third prize. After that, she continues to give many concerts both in her own country and abroad. She is happy now. As a musician who studies at university, she wants to give concerts abroad and represent her school in the best way possible.

Her mother is stating that it is not easy to bring an individual with autism to this stage. She says: “There are many individuals with autism and families that cannot experience the excitement of starting school in these days when schools are opened. I could not even imagine these days as a mother who had experienced the same concern many years ago.”

“Our daughter, who could not even think that she would start school, successfully completed the fine arts high school. Last year and this year, our daughter attended the talent examinations in order to go to university, but in many places, no real evaluation was made without prejudices. We worked hard all summer. While she was very exhausted in lessons, I was exhausted while organizing her lectures and ran to different corners of the city. Our biggest dream, as a family, is to have a life where our daughter is happy, peaceful, able to work and live safely.”

Symptoms of Autism in Adulthood

Autism spectrum disorder is actually spread over a very diverse range and is available in different types. While autism can be diagnosed at very young ages, some types of autism are also observed in adults. In general, brain function is affected by autism, which brings with it communication problems and social interaction difficulties. In the first three years of life, the symptoms of autism appear in general.

Autism symptoms in adults are similar to those seen in children. However, it can be a confusing process to understand whether the behaviors are autism-related, as they are somehow adapted to adult life.

The most severe symptom seen in adults is that they cannot perform their daily tasks and activities properly. This often leads to the need to care by someone. Some individuals with autism who are adults can live with their families at the same house. Some individuals with autism can live together with other people with autism in home-controlled and controlled homes.

Most adults with autism are not inclined to engage in social interaction and social communication because they have difficulty in creating and maintaining a job. One of the most important symptoms is that they lack empathy. This causes other people around them, like us, to perceive individuals with autism as cold. However, it is useful to remind that this is a sign of autism.

It is also observed that most adults with autism have an obsession with an object or a situation. When this pattern is altered or impaired, an individual with autism may be upset or irritable. As we mentioned before, it is the main symptoms of autism and it is observed in both childhood and adulthood.

Asperger syndrome, another form of autism spectrum disorder, can be diagnosed in school years or in adolescence. The symptoms are less obvious. It is a life-long condition, but progress is also possible. Adults with this symptom are more successful in developing their abilities. They can also improve themselves to be more aware of social cues such as body language.

Adult people with Asperger syndrome may not tend to prefer in order to live alone. Most of them get married and most of them also have children. Contrary to the distraction in autism, individuals with Asperger syndrome can be focused for a long time and they are very careful about details.

The longer focusing times and attention to detail can help them achieve a very successful career. They even have a great tendency to progress in their careers such as engineering, science, and technology. Early treatment of autism as a child is very important. Thus, further, development can be achieved.

There is a man who told his story with an autism spectrum disorder. Before getting a diagnosis, life was like torture for him. For a long time, he was describing his life as a train wreck would not have been far from the reality. According to him, everything had been falling apart, getting worse and worse. Until several points when he thought he could not take or he did not want anymore. After that, he went to an expert and he got diagnosed with an Asperger’s syndrome.

After getting the diagnosis, through his own hard work, research and willpower, he would resume his full-time education, started doing voluntary autism research and went to work as a volunteer related to autism. Thanks to those activities, he had new friends and interests and he worked hard towards many goals and ambitions. He stated that it was not easy at the beginning, but after diagnosis life became easier.

Autism Spectrum Disorder: Problems in Daily Life

Individuals with autism can have language impairments. For example; they could be slow to talk; their language comprehension can behind production which means in normal circumstances understanding happened first and then producing comes, however, in autistic circumstances producing comes first, it means individuals with autism say something meaningless at first.

Individuals with autism can have motor deficits. These problems are often present, including odd gait, clumsiness, and other abnormal motor signs. For example; they can walk on tiptoes. Individuals with autism are inclined to self-injury and aggression. For example; head banging, biting the wrist.

Individuals with autism can have sensory issues, such as seeking or avoiding from something. Some of them can be hypersensitive, that is over-sensitive, to stimuli such as sound or touch. For example, they might hold their hands over ears and crawl under a table in a noisy, crowded room, or panic at another person’s attempt to put their arm around them.

Some of them appear to be hypo-sensitive, that is under-sensitive, to sensory information coming at them from the environment. For instance, a child may act so unmoved by someone’s voice that they appear deaf even although their hearing is perfectly intact.

Individuals with autism may have mood instability, meltdowns or tantrums. For some individuals with autism, problems with mood go beyond frequent irritability or tantrums. They may suffer from an actual mood disorder in addition to their autism.

They might have executive function issues, which means that the ability to coordinate and apply one’s own mental capacity, and problems in activities of daily living, such as dressing, self-feeding, and toileting. They are crucial to a person’s independence and their ability to take part in the larger world. The tendency to insist on sameness can also make acquiring life skills difficult for them.

Other than those challenges, they could have some other challenges and they can be accepted as first signs of autism spectrum disorder. Individuals with autism are sensitive to noise. They can have sleep problems and other sleep issues. Also, there would be a challenge of physical fitness for individuals with an autism spectrum disorder.

In addition to all of these mentioned above, many people with autism have been diagnosed with or treated for, another psychiatric condition, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, or mood disorders.

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