Children's Health

Learn the Signs: Autism in Young Children

Watching your toddler explore and interact with the world around them is always a great source of joy. But perhaps your little one has been displaying some abnormal behaviors, and you’re a bit concerned. You might suspect that these actions are signs of autism spectrum disorder, but you’re not too familiar with the condition. Read on to familiarize yourself with autism.

What Is Autism?

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can affect the way an individual communicates, behaves, and processes and reacts to stimuli. “Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means the symptoms have different levels of severity, varying from person to person,” explains Theresa Krause, MD, pediatrician at CHI St. Joseph Health Pediatrics College Station.

What Are the Signs of Autism in Young Children?

No two cases of autism are the same, so individuals with the condition might experience one symptom or multiple. Many children exhibit typical behavior in early life, then begin to regress or miss developmental milestones around 1 or 2 years old. Keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • Lack of interest in toys

  • Playing with toys in identical ways each time

  • Not interacting with others

  • Not reacting to noise or seeming deaf

  • Not making eye contact

  • Avoiding physical touch  

  • Not speaking

  • Giving seemingly random answers to questions

  • Waving hands and/or rocking their body

  • Spinning in circles

  • Having extreme reactions to minor things

  • Having no reaction to various stimuli

  • Obsessive behaviors

  • Difficulty comprehending emotions

  • A regression in abilities, such as losing language skills they previously had

If your child is displaying any of these signs, schedule an appointment with your CHI St. Joseph Health pediatrician, who can listen to your concerns and refer you to a pediatric therapist or other specialists, if needed.

Sources:

National Autism Association | Signs of Autism
CDC | What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Speaks | What Is Autism?

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