Some children with autism spectrum disorders demonstrate a delay early in life while others appear to develop typically until the age of 18-30 months, when parents may notice delays or regression in language, play or social interaction.
The following are characteristics frequently observed in people with autism:
Language develops slowly or not at all. May use sounds or echolalia (mimicking words and phrases), may communicate with gestures or behaviors instead of words.
Language is advanced and for their age – children with Asperger Syndrome often display a “Little Professor” manner of speaking and older children and adults may have a stilted manner of speech. May have trouble taking turns in conversation or dominates conversation with their area of interest.
May be unusually sensitive (hyper-sensitive) or notably insensitive (hypo-sensitive) to sounds, textures, tastes, touch and sights. May cover the ears or become distressed by sounds and light, may eat a very limited range of food.
May seem unaware of personal space or seem unaware of surroundings or what is going on around them.
May seem more comfortable alone rather than with others. May not respond to their name but does respond to other sounds. May show a lack of appropriate eye contact. May seem unaware of others or treat others as objects. May prefer parallel play (not engaging with others but simply playing next to others) rather than interactive play. May show limited understanding of social cues and/or personal space.
May be overactive or very passive. May not respond to or may object to being picked up or cuddled. May perseverate (show an obsessive interest in a single item, idea or person). May display a lack of sense of danger. Can show aggression to others or self. May be resistant or object to changes in routine.
May lack spontaneous or imaginative play and may not initiate pretend games. May prefer to use toys in odd ways, such as lining them up or spinning the wheels on toy cars instead of pretending to drive them. May prefer to play with odd objects instead of conventional toys.
Some autistics may display great interest and/or talent in one area. It is commonly believed that all persons with autism have a savant skill or “genius” in an area, but such savant skills are extremely rare. More often, persons with autism have a “special interest,” which can include obsession with unusual interests or items, such as string, fans or train schedules.
Disclaimer: Please note this information is not a substitute for a full-scale diagnostic assessment.
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