Signs And Characteristics Checklist
If youre reading this page, you may be thinking that you, your partner, or someone you know or love is showing some of the signs or characteristics of autism.
These signs cover a range of human behaviour from social communication and social interaction, to restricted, repetitive and sensory processing.
Note that the information below is just a list of some of the common signs and characteristics of autism.
It is unlikely that an adult will display all of these characteristics, and its important to remember, only a qualified professional can carry out an assessment for autism.
Some of the characteristics that adults with an autism diagnosis commonly report, include:
You Don’t Recognize Sarcasm
Much like the inability to understand a colloquialism, a person on the spectrum may not understand jokes or sarcasm. They require a level of out-of-the-box thinking that is hard for a person on the spectrum to process in real time.
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Is There A Cure For Autism
No, currently autism has no cure. Early intervention during the preschool years can help the child manage their behavioral issues.
Treatment options include
- Behavioral therapy: This focuses on reducing problem behaviors. Children are taught how to behave in social situations and communicate better with others. It also involves counseling the parents and teaching them ways to reach out to their child.
- Educational therapies: Children with autism spectrum disorder respond well to highly structured educational programs. Successful programs consist of various activities to improve social skills, communication and behavior. Speech therapy to improve communication skills, occupational therapy to teach activities of daily living and physical therapy to improve movement and balance may be beneficial.
- Medications: Specific medications can help control symptoms such as hyperactivity, extreme anxiety and severe behavioral issues. Some kids may also have medical issues, such as epilepsy, poor sleep and constipation that need medical management.
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We Dont Always Follow The Rules
There are many rules in life which we have to learn that are never taught. For example, we say thank you for a gift regardless of whether we like it, or asking if someone else wants the last slice of anything . The problem is, these subtle social guidelines are everywhere and, more often than not, autistic people break them without a second thought.
Obviously, it is not an autistic persons intention to break these rules, its just that, as the autistic mind works on absolutes , it can be a challenge to understand many of these acts wherein nearly all cases they go against how they would seem i.e. if someone asks how are you? they dont always actually want to hear how you are, they just want you to say fine and then you can move on.
Nevertheless, whilst autistic people arent great at getting the message when the message hasnt been made clear, we are incredible at memorizing what we are told and are brilliant at following instructions to the letter. Therefore, if theres some kind of rule that an autistic person doesnt seem to be following, just tell us. its not like we want to be naïve to this and, whats more, if you know we struggle and arent doing anything about it, well that, my friend, is perhaps more rude than anything we do.
History Of Terminology For Mild Autism
Back in 1980, “infantile autism” was defined, in all cases, as a severe and disabling disorder. No one with an autism diagnosis would be expected to succeed in school, make friends, or hold down a job.
In 1994, “Asperger’s syndrome” was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . Those with Asperger’s syndrome were characterized as bright, verbal, and highly-functioning, while also demonstrating some autistic behaviors.
In 2013, the diagnostic criteria were changed again when the DSM-5 was published. Asperger’s syndrome is no longer a diagnosis. Instead, the manual provides just one diagnosis for all people with autismautism spectrum disorder . People with autism spectrum disorder may or may not have severe speech delays, sensory processing challenges, specific types of behaviors, or other symptoms.
While people with autism spectrum disorder typically have problems with social communication, these problems range from the extreme to the relatively mild .
Now, a diagnosis of ASD includes a “level of support” from 1 to 3, with 3 describing people who need the most support. However, describing someone as having “Level 1 autism” has not really caught on. Many people have continued to use the term “Asperger’s syndrome,” but even this term doesn’t correlate exactly to high-functioning or mild autism.
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Severe Or Level 3 Autism
Another way to describe severe autism is to talk about the level of support required for a person with the diagnosis to function safely. The current diagnostic manual provides three levels of autism, with more support required at each level.
People with severe autism would usually be diagnosed as having level 3 autism spectrum disorder, meaning they need a great deal of support.
It is not unusual for a person with severe autism to require 24/7 support and supervision.
Severe autism can be much more debilitating and challenging than other types of autism. That’s because people with autism have many of the same issues as anyone else on the spectrum, but to a much greater degree, and often have major symptoms that are relatively rare in higher functioning autism.
These two sets of issues can make it virtually impossible for a person with severe autism to function well in typical settings ranging from school to the grocery store to the doctor’s office.
Common Expressions Are Confusing
For some people on the spectrum, a phrase like “it’s raining cats and dogs” might be something they take literally. They have a hard time understanding these less-than-logical turns of phrase.
Dr. Marsh adds, “You found it difficult to understand humor that relies on sarcasm, puns, or figures of speech, although as an adult you may have learned to understand these the way someone else might learn a foreign language.”
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What Are The Next Steps
Signs of autism are usually evident by 4 years old. If youve noticed signs of autism in your child, its important to talk with their doctor to get them screened as soon as possible.
You can start by going to their pediatrician to explain your concerns. The pediatrician can give you a referral to a specialist in your area.
Specialists who can diagnose autism in children include:
- developmental pediatricians
May Have No Interest In Interacting With The World Around Them
For the neurotypical child, the world is full of bizarre and wonderful things that they have never seen or encountered before things that naturally pique their curiosity and draw them in. The normal response to a new experience or discovery is typically wide-eyed wonderment, dismay, amusement and inquisitiveness.
Children with ASD respond to the world very differently. You might notice that your child doesnt really respond with eye contact or normal outward signs of curiosity when you try to get their attention. Perhaps they dont even turn their head in your direction when you say their name. They might not point at objects, show a normal level of curiosity, or attempt to engage you by showing you their toys and drawings in an effort to share their interests and elicit a positive response.
A lack of responsiveness to stimuli and a lack of interest in trying to seek parental attention is a pretty common sign that a child may fall somewhere on the spectrum.
Children typically learn through imitation. Even at an early age, the neurotypical child will begin copying adult behaviorsyou might catch them pretending to cook, holding an object up to their ear as if they are talking on the phone, or pretending to feed and care for a doll.
Children on the spectrum may also have adverse reactions to normal physical contact, such as a hug, holding hands, or being picked up off the floor and held.
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What Are The Tell
Autism spectrum disorder is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders. It can be seen in all groups of age. The Centers for Disease Control states that the disorder does not discriminate between racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
Oftentimes, certain severe forms of ASD are diagnosed before the child turns two. However, high-functioning individuals may not be recognized and diagnosed until later ages in their lives.
- The level of science,
- Knowledge on autism spectrum disorder itself at the time,
- Lack of social and economic means they had,
This happens because autistic adults were not diagnosed when they were children.
Since autism spectrum disorder is still, in part, a mystery, studies generally focus on where the disorder stems from to figure out how it occurs in the first place. This has caused the focus to be on children. The adults who have never been diagnosed in their lives were partially left out in the research sphere.
However, in recent years, awareness of autism spectrum disorder in adults has increased significantly. This is due to the fact that the public is now aware of the signs and understands that a diagnosis can be made even later in life of a person.
Autism spectrum disorder impacts three main areas in an individuals life: the social aspect, communication, and their behaviors.
Since we understand autism more and more every day, we are now able to differentiate and diagnose more adults with ASD.
Other Issues Associated With Autism
Older autistic children and teenagers often have other issues as well. These might include:
- difficulty with sleep for example, they might have difficulty falling asleep, or might regularly wake up or have broken sleep patterns
- anxiety or feeling overwhelmed for example, they might feel anxious about going to new places, or being in social situations
- depression older autistic children and teenagers who are aware of their differences are also often aware of how others see them and can feel like outsiders. These feelings of low mood might be intensified by changing hormone levels during puberty
- aggressive behaviour they often have sensory sensitivities that can lead to sudden aggressive behaviour. They might have difficulty understanding whats going on around them, which can lead to frustration building up
- eating disorders for example, they might have difficulty moving to secondary school and might develop an eating disorder to cope with feelings of anxiety
- difficulty with organisational skills they might find the increase in complexity at secondary school hard to manage
- school refusal they might feel overwhelmed or confused at school. They might also be vulnerable to bullying at school
- gender dysphoria autistic children and teenagers can be more likely than other children and teenagers to identify as a gender thats different from the sex they were assigned at birth. If they feel distressed about this its called gender dysphoria.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Asd
Every person with ASD is unique, so the timing and severity of the first signs and symptoms can vary widely. Some children with ASD show signs within the first few months of life. In others, symptoms may not become obvious until 24 months or later. Some children with ASD appear to develop normally until around 18 to 24 months of age and then stop gaining new skills and/or start losing skills.
During infancy , a child may show symptoms that include:
- Limited or no eye contact
- No babbling
- Appearing not to hear
- Playing with toys in an unusual or limited manner
- Showing more interest in objects instead of people
- Starting language skills but then stopping or losing those skills
- Showing repetitive movements with their fingers, hands, arms or head
Up to 2 years of age, there may be continuing symptoms from infancy. A child may also:
- Focus only on certain interests
- Be unable to have reciprocal social interactions
- Move in unusual ways, such as tilting their head, flexing their fingers or hands, opening their mouth or sticking out their tongue
- Have no interest in playing with other children
- Repeat words or phrases without appearing to understand them
- Have behavioural issues, including self-injury
- Have trouble controlling their emotions
- Like to have things a certain way, such as always eating the same food
Possible signs of ASD at any age:
How Can I Help A Friend With Autism
People with ASD have a very wide array of signs and symptoms. Some people with ASD do not feel that they have a disorder and don’t want to change. They’re proud of who they are and they want to be accepted, even though they may have different strengths and weaknesses than most other people.
All people deserve respect. But people with ASD may be teased, bullied, or left out because they’re different. Bullying and teasing are never the right way to treat other people, but it may be hard to be a friend with someone who has ASD.
People with ASD often don’t understand playful jokes or sarcasm. You may need to be very clear and factual when you communicate with someone who has ASD.
Try to be patient and kind. Remember how hard it might be for the person with ASD to understand how to be a friend. Stand up for classmates who are bullied. Tell adults, so they can help protect kids who are bullied.
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Carry On The Conversation:
What are some autism misconceptions which you would like to clarify? Let me know in the comments below. And, if you want to learn the truth behind autistic meltdowns, check out this article: Exploring Autism: What is an Autistic Meltdown?
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Thank you for reading and I will see you next week for more thoughts from across the spectrum.
Speech And Language Difficulties May Present Themselves During Early Stages Of Language Development
Children with ASD may have a hard time speaking and communicating at the expected level for their age.
Even during infancy, you might notice that your child does not babble or coo in response when you talk and attempt to interact. By their first birthday, most toddlers can speak a word or two, but children on the spectrum often dont learn to speak until much later.
Sometimes, children with ASD babble and coo in the first few months of life, and then cease to communicate altogether. In these cases, all forms of verbal communication and normal language development and experimentation with speech abruptly stop. This can be disconcerting for parents and is often a sign that its time to investigate further by seeking professional help.
Even in cases where autistic children do speak and demonstrate pretty typical signs of normal language development, they often repeat unrelated words and phrases over and over and, in essence, speak without really communicating or conveying a feeling, thought or desire.
Early intervention is key to helping autistic children learn to communicate, whether it is through spoken language, or in more extreme cases, through sign language or even an alternative augmentative communication device.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Autism
The most obvious symptoms tend to involve communication and interaction with others.
Autistic people may have different ways of learning, thinking, and problem-solving. Intellectually, autistic people can fall on a range from severely challenged to gifted.
Everybody is different. Some people will have many symptoms, and some will have only a few. Signs of autism in a 3-year-old or 4-year-old may look different from those who are teens or adults. Some autistic people may be able to mask their symptoms.
General signs of autism may include:
- not responding to their name
- avoiding eye contact or not showing an awareness when others are speaking
- not understanding sharing or taking turns
- not looking at objects shown to them
- not pointing or responding to pointing
- having difficulty understanding facial expressions
In older children and adults, you might also notice:
- having difficulty reading body language, facial expressions, and other social cues
- not getting sarcasm, teasing, or figures of speech
- speaking in monotone
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How Is Autism Spectrum Disorder Treated
There is no cure for autism, but treatment can make a big difference. The sooner treatment starts, the better. With therapy, people with autism learn language, improve in school, and build social skills. Many kids with ASD are in special education classes or get special education services.
A treatment program might include:
- speech therapy to help with talking and language skills
- occupational therapy to help with everyday tasks, like dressing and playing
- behavioral therapy to help improve behavior
- social skills training to help with relating to others
- special education to help learning
- medicine to help with things like sleep, paying attention, and hyperactivity
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Strategies For Adults With Autism
Interventions for adult autism include therapy and setting up environmental accommodations that increase independence and improve quality of life. Interventions also depend on the level of support an autistic individual may need, and which personal differences they want to keep or change.
Cognitive behavior therapy , for example, may help autistic individuals cope with and understand the ways they experience the world differently compared to neurotypical individuals.
As far as accommodations and supports in and out of the home, they can include but are not limited to:
- assistive technology devices
- sensory-friendly spaces
- coaching to support long-term goals
Applied Behavior Analysis , a widely used intervention for autism , is also an option. However, many autistic individuals reject ABA, viewing it as a method that trains individuals to behave less autistic.
For autistic adults who may opt for ABA, a typical approach focuses on outlining the individuals goals and challenges that affect daily functioning, and implementing strategies to improve them in real-life situations.