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Know the early signs of autism

14 clues that your child may need an autism screening

Know the early signs of autism


Autism varies in its severity and some symptoms go unrecognized. There are three behaviors that traditionally characterize autism – difficulty with social interaction, problems with communication, and repetitive behavior or obsessive interest. These behaviors can range from mild to severe.

Some characteristics displayed by children with autism disorder:

  1. Unresponsive to people; don’t make friends with peers

  2. Focus intently on one item, excluding all others, for long periods

  3. Don’t engage in imaginative or social play

  4. May fail to respond to their name

  5. Avoid eye contact with others

  6. Don’t understand tone of voice or facial expressions; have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling

  7. Lack of empathy

  8. Engage in repetitive movements such as twirling or rocking

  9. Engage in self-abusive behavior such as biting or head-banging

  10. Don’t initiate or sustain conversations

  11. Tend to start speaking later than other children and may refer to themselves in the third person

  12. May speak in a sing-song voice and usually speak about their own favorite topics

  13. Have a reduced sensitivity to pain but are very sensitive to sound, touch, or other sensory stimulation

  14. Strictly follow specific routines or rituals

READ MORE: What is sensory processing disorder?

Doctors use questionnaires or other screening tools to gather information from children and their parents. If there is concern, more comprehensive testing should be done.


For information, visit the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. There are other organizations that provide information, including the Autism National Committee, Autism Research Institute, the Autism Society of America, and Autism Speaks.


Source: National Institutes of Health


Liz Consavage Vilato is a freelance writer and mom of two living in Wappingers Falls.