Symptoms of Autism
From Lisa Jo Rudy,
Your Guide to Autism.
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About.com Health’s Disease and Condition content is reviewed by Steven Gans, MD
All Autistic People Do Not Look Alike
There’s a saying in the autism field: “if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” In other words: every person on the autism spectrum is unique, and one person’s set of symptoms is just that … One person’s set of symptoms! This is, in part, becaue autism is a spectrum disorder: you can be a little autistic or very autistic.
But there’s more to it. There are also a wide array of problems which are relatively common among autistic people – such as seizure disorders, gastrointestinal issues, mental retardation and mental illness. At this point, no one knows why these conditions are so common among people with autism spectrum disorders. It is possible that these additional conditions are indicators of different kinds of autism, each caused by a slightly different set of circumstances.
While the conditions listed above are more common among autistic people than among the general population, they are by no means universal among people on the autism spectrum.
Autism & Toddlers
Symptoms Of Autism & What To Do If You Suspect Your Child Is Autistic
Autism Spectrum Schools
Programs & services for LD students Chance to achieve their potential
Autism Recovery Happens
From Tragedy to Triumph. A Little Girl Recovers w/ the Help of Mozart
In fact, there are many autistic people with no apparent mental or physical illness at all.
What Do Autistic People Have in Common?
Top Autism Myths
Top Ten Terrific Traits of Autistic People
Social and Communication Symptoms
Most of the time, autism is suspected in a child or adult because of deficits or stereotyped differences in social and communication skills. Some examples of these differences include:
Delayed or unusual speech patterns (many autistic children, for example, memorize video scripts and repeat them word for word with the precise intonation as the TV characters)
High pitched or flat intonation
Lack of slang or “kidspeak”
Difficulty understanding tone of voice and body language as a way of expressing sarcasm, humor, irony, etc.
Lack of eye contact
Inability to take another’s perspective (to imagine oneself in someone else’s shoes
While many autistic people have terrific language skills, there are many who have no language at all. In between are people whose verbal skills are idiosyncratic: they may be perfectly able to talk, but have a very difficult time with conversation, small talk, and slang.
Communicating with PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System)
Speech-Language Therapy and Autism: The Basics
Social Skills Therapy and Autism: The Basics
Book Review: Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships
Sensory and Motor Symptoms
A majority of autistic people are either hyper or hypo sensitive to light, sound, crowds and other external stimulation. Some have both hyper and hypo sensitivities. This often results in autistic people covering their ears, avoiding or reacting negatively to brightly lit areas, or – on the other hand – crashing hard into sofas and craving strong bear hugs.
While it’s unusual to find an autistic person who is obviously physically disabled as a result of the disorder, most autistic people do have some level of fine and gross motor difficulty. This often manifests itself in poor handwriting, difficulty with athletic coordination, etc. As a result, when autistic people get involved with sports, it’s usually in individual, endurance sports such as running and swimming.
Physical Therapy and Autism: The Basics
Occupational Therapy and Autism: The Basics
Sensory Integration Therapy
While autistic people do differ from one another radically, it is fairly typical for people on the spectrum to:
Engage in repetitive behaviors and ritualized activities, ranging from lining up items to following a rigid routine,
Have one or a few passionate interests,
Have difficulty in making and keeping multiple friends,
Prefer activities that require relatively little verbal interaction.
It also seems to be the case – for as-yet-undetermined reasons – that certain interests are of particular interest to many people on the autism spectrum. For example, an enormous number of young children with ASD’s are fascinated by trains (and the Thomas the Tank Engine toy), while a great many older children and adults on the spectrum are very interested in computers, science, technology, and animals.
Tips for Understanding and Managing Your Autistic Child’s Behavior
Play Therapy and Autism: The Basics
Behavior Specialists and Autism: The Basics
Developmental Treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorders
The National Autistic Society, London, England. “Do children with autism spectrum disorders have a special relationship with Thomas the Tank Engine and, if so, why?” Research undertaken by Aidan Prior Communications. February, 2002.
National Institute pf Mental Health, Autism Spectrum Disorders (Pervasive Developmental Disorders) A detailed booklet that describes symptoms, causes, and treatments, with information on getting help and coping. 2004
Greenspan, Stanley and Weider, Serena. “Engaging Autism.” Da Capo Press:2006.
Updated: May 21, 2007