What Does Autism Look Like?

In today’s world, a child born today has a high chance of being diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and exhibiting its trademark delays in social and communication skills. Parents should learn how to identify the signs of autism in their child.

In this article, I will try to clarify Autism Spectrum Disorder in greater detail. This article gives an opportunity to parents, caregivers, teachers, and even siblings to recognize the wide range of strengths and challenges which children with autism exhibit.

Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children


Professionalists often recognize and diagnose severe forms of the disorder in the first 3 years of a child’s life, whereas they diagnose milder forms of it when developmental delays become apparent at school. Because all autism-related behaviors become during play at school.

Children with autism often exhibit problems with social interactions, trouble with communication, trouble with mimics and eye contact, repetitive and ritualistic behaviors. Some high-functioning individuals experience milder challenges, whereas others exhibit severe impairments such as impaired spoken language, limited imaginative play skills.



Social Symptoms in Children


  • They display poor or fleeting eye contact.
  • They do not respond to name when called.
  • They have difficulties to imitate the actions of others.
  • They have delays in imaginative play.
  • They have difficulties to understand nonverbal communication.
  • They show limited back and forth play or interactions.
  • They have trouble to see things and understand from another person’s perspective.
  • They have failures to respond to social cues.

Language Symptoms in Children


  • They have delayed speech-language abilities such as babbling.
  • They may have echolalia.
  • They have delays in using gestures in order to have communication.
  • They have difficulties to understand body language.
  • They might have troubles while creating sentences, especially complex and long sentences.
  • They have a tendency to repeat words and phrases.
  • They can use a communication device or picture communication in order to communicate.


Behavioral Symptoms in Children


  • They can fail to seek comfort when they upset.
  • They have frequent emotional outbursts.
  • They might have physical aggression.
  • They have a tendency to display temper tantrums.
  • Mostly they have self-injurious behaviors.
  • They are inclined to destruct property.
  • They display atypical body movement.
  • They often give an aversive response to a hug, handshake, or pat on the back.
  • They prefer to remain alone at home.
  • Mostly they want to sit in the corner of the playground alone.
  • They can stay under a play structure.
  • They have the capability to easily recall things that occurred many years ago.
  • They could be over-sensitive or under-sensitive to temperature, texture, smell, or sound.
  • They refuse to wear different types of clothing every day.
  • They refuse to sleep on sheets that are not made of a specific material.

Repetitive Behaviors in Children


  • Full or partial body rocking
  • Twirling
  • They pin their bodies in circles.
  • They want to arrange objects in a particular order and sequence.
  • They wiggle their fingers or cross them in an unusual way.
  • Flapping hands
  • Walking on their toes
  • They have atypically intense or unusual interests.
  • They might have strong interests in a specific topic or toy.
  • They are absolutely dedicated to a video game about which they know everything there is to know.
  • They have a preference for repeating the same actions, activities, movements, or words over and over again, even if there is no obvious reason for doing so.
  • They have extremely rigid ideas about time, travel, daily routines, feeding, dressing routines, and placement of objects.


There is a gender difference in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Symptoms vary by gender. Boys are getting diagnosed more than girls. Because during their childhood, boys are more aggressive than girls and their parents take them more often than take girls to the pediatricians. ASD symptoms in girls may be more nuanced and difficult to notice. Parents do not think that girls do not have ASD. This situation leads to a delayed or completely missed diagnoses.

Girls in an adolescent period more commonly have troubles with social cues, while adolescent boys are likely to exhibit repetitive behaviors. After infancy and elementary school periods, boys have more troubles with social cues than girls.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Adults


Autism spectrum disorder can occur in all age, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Even if severe forms of autism are often diagnosed in the first 3 years of life, but high-functioning individuals may get diagnosed much later in life.

In recent years, Autism Spectrum Disorder awareness has increased dramatically. It shows that there is an increase both in diagnoses and in the public’s understanding. That’s why, even in adulthood, when people see the symptoms of autism in themselves or other people around them, they go to the professionalists to get diagnosed.

Regardless of severity, autism symptoms commonly interfere with everyday life. Those symptoms make people’s life difficult to live. These symptoms occur in social interactions, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive or ritualistic behaviors, as same when it occurs in childhood. However, high- functioning individuals may exhibit only mild challenges.



  • They have difficulties to interpret what other people are thinking or feeling.
  • They have trouble to interpret facial expressions, gestures, body language, or social cues around them.
  • They have difficulties in regulating their emotion and in understanding others’.
  • They have not capability of keeping up a conversation.
  • They have an inflection that does not reflect feelings.
  • They could have difficulties to manage and maintain the natural give-and-take of a conversation.
  • They are prone to have monologues on a favorite subject.
  • They have a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors.
  • They have a tendency to engage in routine behaviors.
  • They only participate in a restricted range of activities.
  • They are strictly consistent on daily routines and they could have outbursts when changes occur.
  • They mostly have deep knowledge of one particular topic.

Autism (ASD) Symptoms in Adults at Home


  • Even they do not work as an academician, their family members refer to that as the “eccentric professor” of the family.
  • Even they are in a quiet place, they find themselves while making involuntary noises such as clearing their throats repeatedly.
  • Mostly they invent or make their own words and expressions up in order to describe things and explain themselves.
  • They have always wanted a best friend, however, they have never found one because of the challenges in social interactions.
  • Idıoms, stereotyped sentences, and some expressions are confusing to adults with autism.
  • They don’t like unexpected events and behaviors. Because of this reason, they follow the same schedule every day of the week.
  • In their leisure time, adults with autism prefer to play individual games and sports, where everyone works for only themselves instead of working toward a common goal on a team.
  • They are always bumping into things and tripping over their own feet.


Autism (Asd) Symptoms in Adults at Work


  • During meetings and important events, they can find themselves making involuntary noises such as clearing their throat over and over or finger movements.
  • While talking with their boss, an adult with autism have difficulty telling if the person is satisfied with own performance.
  • While having a conversation with their boss, they have a preference to look at the wall, boss’es shoes, or anywhere but directly into the boss’es eyes.
  • They would be really good at works related to a computer such as math and software coding, however having the struggle to succeed in other areas such as having a conversation.
  • They talk to their co-workers the same way that they talk with their friends and family members. They cannot put the distance.
  • Each item on their desks has a special place according to adults with autism, and they don’t like it when the cleaning company or somebody else rearranges it.
  • Their co-workers can say that they speak like a robot.

In addition to those symptoms or signs, adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder may show extraordinary talents in visual skills, music, art and even in math, science. They mostly have a specific preference on one topic. Besides those, roughly 40% of adults with autism have average or above-average intelligence, instead of having mental retardation.

High- Functioning (Mild) Autism


It is an informal term that some people use when they talk about people with ASD who can live independently. They are not like other people with autism in common. They can speak, read, write or even they can handle basic life skills such as eating, getting dressed and taking a shower by themselves. Moreover, there are plenty of people of all ages who have been told by someone like a well-meaning friend or by a doctor and therapist that they have mild Autism Spectrum Disorder.



It is not an official term or diagnosis, however, also professionalists give them this name in order to clarify the difference. In other respect, even high functioning people have significant and sensory challenges that are severe enough to get in the way of normal activities and relationships.

They have a hard time with social interactions and communication. They cannot read social cues, gestures, body movements, and communication naturally. They can get so stressed by a social situation that they shut down. They do not make much eye contact or even small talk, like the other people with autism.

They also can be very devoted to and insisted on routine and order. They might have repetitive and restricted habits and behaviors that seem awkward to other people around them.



There is an inconsistency about how they handle school and work. Some people with mild autism do very well in school or at work, while some of them get overwhelmed and cannot concentrate.

Some high- functioning people can have a job and others can find that really difficult to do. It all depends on the person and the situation. However, even for those who can do a lot, social skills are usually underdeveloped.

We can see this situation mostly in people with superior intelligence such as in Albert Einstein who is a worldwide famous scientist. Let’s take a quick look at one of the most famous scientists’ life in order to understand the relationship between mild autism and superior intelligence.



We all know that Albert Einstein was thought to be an idiot or have mental retardation when he was a little boy. However, he was later thought to have superior intelligence that nobody had and thought to be astonishing by breaking down the atom When Einstein was born, he had a bigger head than normal. But, in those times, the doctor could not understand what the problem is.

Einstein did not speak until the age of 3 and when he started talking, he spoke very slowly. The problem with her speech continued until he was 9 years old. This situation led him to be introvert. How introverted he was, he began to make big dreams. His endless curiosity for everything led him to have perfect imagination. There was no limit to what he thought and did in time.

He did not have lots of friends but had a great obsession with sailing, even he never learned to swim. That’s why his obsession continues as a hobby throughout his life.

He had trouble remembering things. He did not remember names, dates, and telephone numbers while remembering all the scientific knowledge, formulas, and hypothesis. Also, he was unsuccessful at primary and secondary school. On the other hand, since he was only 26, he published some of the most famous and valuable works.



Besides all of these, he was married and he was a father of 2 children. Because of his academic works, Einstein often traveled around the world and it caused problems in his marriage and relationship. Other than this reason, he could not get well with his wife. He preferred not to talk with her mostly and they had a marriage contract like they were only the people who share the same apartment. The contracts items were, for example, giving 3 meals a day, not touching the desk while he was working or giving up personal relations such as sexuality if it was not necessary.

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